Today, the agency has classified about a third of all AfD members as extremist, including Mr. Chrupalla and Alice Weidel, the party’s other lead candidate. A court is reviewing whether the entire party can soon be placed under formal observation.

“The AfD is irrelevant in power-political terms,” said Mr. Funke. “But it is dangerous.”

Mr. Chrupalla, a decorator who occasionally takes the stage in his overalls, and Ms. Weidel, a suit-wearing former Goldman Sachs analyst and gay mother of two, have sought to counter that impression. As if to hammer home the point, the party’s main election slogan this year is: “Germany — but normal.”

A look through the party’s 207-page election program shows what “normal” means: The AfD demands Germany’s exit from the European Union. It calls for the abolition of any mandates to fight the coronavirus. It wants to return to the traditional German definition of citizenship based on blood ancestry. And it is the only party in Parliament that denies man-made climate change, while also calling for investment in coal and a departure from the Paris climate accord.

That the AfD’s polling numbers have barely budged for the past 18 months suggests that its supporters are not protest voters but Germans who subscribe to its ideas and ideology.

“The AfD has brought out into the open a small but very radical electorate that many thought we don’t have in this country,” said Mr. Quent, the sociologist. “Four years ago people were asking: ‘Where does this come from?’ In reality it was always there. It just needed a trigger.”

Mr. Quent and other experts estimate the nationwide ceiling of support for the party at around 14 percent. But in parts of the former Communist East, where the AfD has become a broad-based political force entrenched at the local level, it is often twice that — enough to make it the region’s second-strongest political force.

Among the under 60-year olds, Mr. Quent said, it has become No. 1.

“It’s only a question of time until AfD is the strongest party in the East,” Mr. Quent said.

That is why Mr. Chrupalla, whose constituency is in the eastern state of Saxony, the one state where the AfD already came first in 2017, predicts it will eventually become too big to bypass.

“In the East we are a people’s party, we are well-established at the local, city, regional and state level,” Mr. Chrupalla said. “In the East the middle class votes for the AfD. In the West, they vote for the Greens.”

Christopher F. Schuetze and Melissa Eddy contributed reporting.

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Canada Election 2021: Justin Trudeau Projected to Remain Prime Minister

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s political gamble failed to pay off Monday when Canadian voters returned him to office but denied him the expanded bloc of power he was seeking in Parliament.

Election returns late on Monday showed that while he would remain prime minister, it will again be as the head of a minority government, Canadian broadcasters projected.

In August, with his approval ratings high, Mr. Trudeau called a “snap election,” summoning voters to the polls two years before he had to. The goal, he said, was to obtain a strong mandate for his Liberal Party to lead the nation out of the pandemic and into recovery.

But many Canadians suspected that his true ambitions were mere political opportunism, and that he was trying to regain the parliamentary majority the Liberals had until they lost seats in the 2019 election.

Mr. O’Toole, seeking to broaden Conservatives’ appeal, produced a 160-page campaign platform that essentially turned the party’s back on many once-central positions, like opposition to carbon taxes.

Mr. Trudeau broke ethics laws when he and his staff pressured his justice minister, an Indigenous woman, in 2018 to offer a large Canadian engineering firm a deal allowing it to avoid a criminal conviction on corruption charges. Last year a charity with close ties to the Trudeau family was awarded a no-bid contract to administer a Covid-19 financial assistance plan for students. The group withdrew, the program was canceled and Mr. Trudeau was cleared of conflict of interest allegations.

And while Mr. Trudeau champions diversity and racial justice, it came out during the 2019 vote that he had worn blackface or brownface at least three times in the past.

“Every Canadian has met a Justin Trudeau in their lives — privileged, entitled and always looking out for No. 1,” Mr. O’Toole said during the campaign. “He’ll say anything to get elected, regardless of the damage it does to our country.”

Mr. Trudeau returned the criticism, saying Mr. O’Toole’s willingness to ditch Conservative policies and alter his platform mid-campaign showed it was he who would say or promise anything to voters.

While many voters eagerly bumped elbows and posed for selfies with Mr. Trudeau at campaign stops, his campaign was often disturbed by unruly mobs protesting mandatory vaccines and vaccine passports. One event was canceled out of safety concerns, and Mr. Trudeau was pelted with gravel at another.

Mr. Trudeau did have a strong political challenger on the left nationally with Jagmeet Singh of the New Democrats. Mr. Singh, a lawyer and former provincial lawmaker from Ontario, consistently had the highest approval ratings of all the leaders before and during the campaign. But personal popularity was not enough: His party gained three seats but won only a total of 27.

As before the election, the New Democrats are likely to be Mr. Trudeau’s primary source of support in Parliament.

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Haiti Protests Mass U.S. Deportation of Migrants to Country in Crisis

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The first Haitians deported from a makeshift camp in Texas landed in their home country Sunday amid sweltering heat, anger and confusion, as Haitian officials beseeched the United States to stop the flights because the country is in crisis and cannot handle thousands of homeless deportees.

“We are here to say welcome, they can come back and stay in Haiti — but they are very agitated,” said the head of Haiti’s national migration office, Jean Negot Bonheur Delva. “They don’t accept the forced return.”

Mr. Bonheur Delva said the authorities expected that about 14,000 Haitians will be expelled from the United States over the coming three weeks.

An encampment of about that size has formed in the Texas border town of Del Rio in recent days as Haitian and other migrants crossed over the Rio Grande from Mexico. The Biden administration has said it is moving swiftly to deport them under a Trump-era pandemic order.

On Sunday alone, officials in Haiti were preparing for three flights of migrants to arrive in Port-au-Prince, the capital. After that, they expect six flights a day for three weeks, split between Port-au-Prince and the coastal city of Cap Haitien.

Beyond that, little was certain.

“The Haitian state is not really able to receive these deportees,” Mr. Bonheur Delva said.

The Haitian appeal for a suspension of deportations appeared likely to increase the pressure on the Biden administration, which is grappling with the highest level of border crossings in decades.

President Biden, who pledged a more humanitarian approach to immigration than his predecessor, has been taking tough measures to stop the influx, and the administration said this weekend that the Haitian deportations are consistent with that enforcement policy.

But the migrants are being sent back to a country still reeling from a series of overlapping crises, including the assassination of its president in July and an earthquake in August. Only once since 2014 has the United States deported more than 1,000 people to the country.

As the sun beat down Sunday in Port-au-Prince, more than 300 of the newly returned migrants milled close together around a white tent, looking dazed and exhausted as they waited to be processed — and despondent at finding themselves back at Square 1. Some held babies as toddlers ran around playing. Some of the children were crying.

Many said their only hope was to once again follow the long, arduous road of migration.

“I’m not going to stay in Haiti,” said Elène Jean-Baptiste, 28, who traveled with her 3-year-old son, Steshanley Sylvain, who was born in Chile and has a Chilean passport, and her husband, Stevenson Sylvain.

Like Ms. Jean-Baptiste, many had fled Haiti years ago, in the years after the country was devastated by an earlier earthquake, in 2010. Most had headed to South America, hoping to find jobs and rebuild a life in countries like Chile and Brazil.

Recently, facing economic turmoil and discrimination in South America and hearing that it might be easier to cross into the United States under the Biden administration, they decided to make the trek north.

From Mexico, they crossed the Rio Grande into the United States — only to find themselves detained and returned to a country that is mired in a deep political and humanitarian crisis.

In July, the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated, setting off a battle for power. A month later, the impoverished southern peninsula was devastated by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, and the Caribbean nation’s shaky government was ill-equipped to handle the aftermath.

According to a United Nations report released last week, 800,000 people have been affected by the quake. A month after it struck, 650,000 still need emergency humanitarian assistance.

Many of the migrants who stepped off the plane Sunday have little to return to.

Claire Bazille left home in 2015, and had a job cleaning office buildings in Chile’s capital, Santiago. It wasn’t the dream life she had left Haiti to find, but she got by, even sending money home to her mother each month.

When Ms. Bazille heard that it was possible to enter the United States under the Biden administration, she left everything behind and headed north, joining other Haitians along the way.

On Sunday, she was put on a plane and returned to where it had all begun for her.

Only now, Ms. Bazille’s family’s home in Les Cayes had been destroyed in the earthquake. Her mother and six siblings are living in the streets, she said, and she is alone with a small child, a backpack with all their belongings, and no prospect of a job.

“I don’t know how I will survive,” said Ms. Bazille, 35. “It was the worst decision I could have taken. This is where I ended up. This is not where I was going.”

At least a dozen of the migrants said they felt tricked by the United States. They said they had been told by uniformed officials that the flight they were getting on was bound for Florida. When they learned otherwise, some protested but were placed on board in handcuffs, they said.

“I didn’t want to come back,” said Kendy Louis, 34, who had been living in Chile but decided to head to the United States when construction work dried up. He was traveling with his wife and 2-year-old son, and was among those who were handcuffed during the flight, he said.

The director of migration and integration at the Haitian office of migration, Amelie Dormévil, said several of the returnees told her they had been cuffed by the wrists, ankles and waist during the flight.

After the first plane carrying the deportees landed, the first to climb out were parents with babies in their arms and toddlers by the hand. Other men and women followed with little luggage, save perhaps for a little food or some personal belongings.

Amid confusion and shouting, the Haitians were led for processing at the makeshift tent, which had been set up by the International Organization for Migration.

Some expressed dismay at finding themselves back in a place they had worked so hard to escape — and with so few resources to receive them.

“Do we have a country?” asked one woman. “They’ve killed the president. We don’t have a country. Look at the state of this country!”

Haitian officials gave them little cause to think otherwise.

Mr. Bonheur Delva said “ongoing security issues” made the prospect of resettling thousands of new arrivals hard to imagine. Haiti, he said, cannot provide adequate security or food for the returnees.

And then there is the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am asking for a humanitarian moratorium,” Mr. Bonheur Delva said. “The situation is very difficult.”

After the earthquake in August, which killed more than 2,000 people, the Biden administration paused its deportations to Haiti. But it changed course last week when the rush of Haitian migrants crossed into Texas from the border state of Coahuila, Mexico, huddling under a bridge in Del Rio and further straining the United States’ overwhelmed migration system.

The deportations have left Haiti’s new government scrambling.

“Will we have all those logistics?” Mr. Bonheur Delva said. “Will we have enough to feed these people?”

On Sunday, after being processed, the migrants were given Styrofoam containers with a meal of rice and beans. The government planned to give them the equivalent of $100.

After that, said Mr. Bonheur Delva, it will be up to them to find their own way.

Natalie Kitroeff contributed reporting from Mexico City.

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The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Control Killing Machine

If Israel was going to kill a top Iranian official, an act that had the potential to start a war, it needed the assent and protection of the United States. That meant acting before Mr. Biden could take office. In Mr. Netanyahu’s best-case scenario, the assassination would derail any chance of resurrecting the nuclear agreement even if Mr. Biden won.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh grew up in a conservative family in the holy city of Qom, the theological heart of Shia Islam. He was 18 when the Islamic revolution toppled Iran’s monarchy, a historical reckoning that fired his imagination.

He set out to achieve two dreams: to become a nuclear scientist and to take part in the military wing of the new government. As a symbol of his devotion to the revolution, he wore a silver ring with a large, oval red agate, the same type worn by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and by General Suleimani.

He joined the Revolutionary Guards and climbed the ranks to general. He earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Isfahan University of Technology with a dissertation on “identifying neutrons,” according to Ali Akbar Salehi, the former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency and a longtime friend and colleague.

He led the missile development program for the Guards and pioneered the country’s nuclear program. As research director for the Defense Ministry, he played a key role in developing homegrown drones and, according to two Iranian officials, traveled to North Korea to join forces on missile development. At the time of his death, he was deputy defense minister.

“In the field of nuclear and nanotechnology and biochemical war, Mr. Fakhrizadeh was a character on par with Qassim Suleimani but in a totally covert way,” Gheish Ghoreishi, who has advised Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Arab affairs, said in an interview.

When Iran needed sensitive equipment or technology that was prohibited under international sanctions, Mr. Fakhrizadeh found ways to obtain them.

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In Panjshir, Few Signs of an Active Resistance, or Any Fight at All

PANJSHIR, Afghanistan — In this lush strip of land — walled off from potential invaders by high mountain peaks and narrow, ambush-prone passes — former mujahedeen fighters and Afghan commandos regrouped in the days after the Taliban toppled the Afghan government, vowing to fight to the last man. With its history of resistance and its reputation for impenetrability, the Panjshir Valley seemed an ideal place for a determined force of renegades to base an insurgency.

By Sept. 6, however, the Taliban claimed to have captured the entire province of Panjshir, a momentous victory in a region that repelled numerous Soviet offensives in the 1980s, and had remained beyond the Taliban’s control during its rule from 1996 to 2001.

their origin story and their record as rulers.

He said that Qari Qudratullah, the new provincial governor, was meeting with elders to discuss a peaceful handover.

A Taliban military commission official, Mullah Hafiz Osman, later confirmed this was true, while Mr. Nazary, the resistance spokesman, denied the claim.

Behind the Panjshiri fighters flew the green, white and black flag of the Northern Alliance, repurposed to signify the National Resistance Front, which is led by Ahmad Massoud, son of Ahmad Shad Massoud, the leader assassinated in 2001. But villagers said that the Taliban had long been active in the valley, and that their takeover had been negotiated by some of the residents.

Outside the tomb of the elder Massoud, a young Talib, far from his home in Helmand Province in the south, performed his evening prayers.

Days earlier, photos of the partially destroyed tomb, in a dramatic hilltop mausoleum overlooking the valley, appeared on social media alongside accusations that the Taliban had ransacked the place. “This wasn’t our work,” one of the Taliban guards said. “Civilians broke in and smashed the glass.”

The site had since been repaired by the Taliban and was now in its original state. A group of guards stood around the tomb, and as evening fell, they stretched a green shroud over it and closed the doors for the night.

Outside the valley, those who had fled wondered if they would ever be able to return.

When the Taliban first entered Panjshir, Sahar, 17, and her family barricaded themselves at home, thinking the resistance would eventually chase the Talibs away. But the fighting steadily drew closer.

Neighbors started to flee, said Sahar, whose last name is being withheld to protect her identity. Her uncle and cousin were stopped at a Taliban checkpoint near the village, she said, where they were beaten and ordered to turn over their weapons and the names of resistance fighters.

Last week, the family escaped through the mountains. They walked for five days, through remote valleys and over mountain ridges. Sahar fainted three times from dehydration, she said, and her mother had blisters and swollen feet. Her father, who is diabetic, nearly collapsed.

Eventually, they hitched a ride to Kabul, the country’s capital, where they had relatives with whom they are now living.

“We don’t know what will happen,” Sahar said by phone from Kabul. “We may never be able to get back.”

Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting from New York, N.Y. Wali Arian contributed from Istanbul, Turkey.

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New Amazon original film explores a dark era of medical history

Written by Marianna Cerini, CNN

Keeping you in the know, Culture Queue is an ongoing series of recommendations for timely books to read, films to watch and podcasts and music to listen to.

It’s a tale as old as time: A woman won’t conform to societal norms, traditional notions of femininity or what’s expected of her, and is dismissed as diseased. She’s considered hysterical. And, as such, she is locked up, burned at the stake, hidden away or placed under the supposedly steadier control of men.

It’s played out in real life, as well as in countless books, TV shows and movies. The French Amazon original feature “The Mad Women’s Ball,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and is out on Amazon Prime today, is the latest addition to the canon.

Directed and scripted by Melanie Laurent, and based on Victoria Mas’ novel of the same name, the richly cinematic costume drama follows the story of Eugénie Cléry (Lou de Laâge), a well-heeled French girl living in Belle Époque Paris in 1885. Eugénie is smart, an avid reader and a rebellious character with an interest in spiritualism. She also sees dead people.

Lou de Laâge portrays Eugénie, whose family places her in a sinister neuro-psychiatric clinic against her will.

Lou de Laâge portrays Eugénie, whose family places her in a sinister neuro-psychiatric clinic against her will. Credit: Christine Tamalet/Thibault Grabherr/Amazon Originals

Her disregard for convention proves too much for her family. Against Eugénie’s will, and to the heartbreak of her doting brother (Benjamin Voisin), her father François (Cédric Kahn) commits her to a sinister neuro-psychiatric clinic, the infamous — and real-life — Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital. It is an institution where women deemed unfit for public life would be “hospitalized” and subjected to clinical surveillance and experimental treatments led by celebrated neurology pioneer Dr. Charcot (Grégoire Bonnet).

Here, Eugénie finds herself among other “mad” women, many of whom have been driven to depressive or psychotic states by the same men who claim to be looking after them.

There’s Louise (Lomane de Dietrich), who was sent to the asylum after speaking up about her sexually abusive uncle, only to be harassed by one of the doctors; Marguerite (Lauréna Thellier), a former pickpocket and sex worker who “suffers” from outbursts of rage; and Therese, an older woman who was brought to the hospital for pushing her husband into the Seine River.

Whether mentally ill or simply victims of trauma, abuse or exploitation, the patients are treated like objects to be prodded and studied, spotlighting the misogyny of early neuroscience and medicine at large. (While the concept of “hysteria” emerged in the medieval period, it became prominent in European medicine and culture in the 19th century.)

One of the movie’s most overt displays of this dehumanization — the “Mad Women’s Ball” — is based on an actual event where, for one night only, the upper echelons of French society were invited to gawk at the clinic’s residents dressed up in their finery.

As she’s put under the care of the sanatorium’s head nurse Geneviève (played by director Laurent herself), Eugénie struggles to adapt to life at Salpêtrière. She is adamant she doesn’t belong in the institution — although she slowly comes to question what — and who — exactly, is mad: her fellow prisoners inside, or those outside, exerting control and showing no empathy?

The film is an uncomfortable reminder of how society has long demonized the "hysterical woman."

The film is an uncomfortable reminder of how society has long demonized the “hysterical woman.” Credit: Christine Tamalet/Thibault Grabherr/Amazon Originals

When the spirit of a nurse’s dead sister begins communicating with Eugénie, Geneviève, too, starts wondering where madness lies and whether a world beyond the tangible might be possible after all.

For Laurent, Eugénie’s story — and that of the women she befriends — felt like a timeless one. “I wanted to make a movie about witches in the Middle Ages, as I have always been fascinated by that part of history,” she said in a video interview. “Then my producer sent me the ‘Mad Women’s Ball’ book, and I thought it was incredibly powerful. It was horrifying to see that, 300 years on, women who dared to be different and who could have made society more interesting were still made silent.”

The way Laurent portrays this imposed silence is one of the most compelling aspects of the movie. Scenes focusing on the female patients’ experience of the patriarchal institution and its dystopian system of oppression are among the production’s sharpest and most enraging — and an uncomfortable reminder of how our culture has long demonized the “hysterical woman.”

But “The Mad Women’s Ball” also triggers a different kind of ethical negotiation for the viewer. For all her quick-wittedness, Eugénie’s ability to speak with the dead is hard to understand for anyone who values science over faith. On paper, she’s not “well,” yet calling her insane doesn’t seem fitting either. This duality makes her character — and the movie — all the more challenging, as we’re asked to grapple with the rational and the irrational, the acceptable and the otherworldly.

“Eugénie is delicate and fragile, but she’s also very strong,” Laurent said. “She goes against the crowd because she is against the crowd. I wanted to emphasize that.”

As Geneviève starts rejecting the rules of Salpêtrière and decides to help Eugénie, the emotional connection between the two women ultimately frees them both from some of the constraints — societal and cultural — they’ve struggled against, helping them find their self-worth in a male-centeric world.

Add to Queue: Female hysteria in focus

WATCH: “Augustine” (2012)

It’s the same setting — the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital — but a different take on Dr. Charcot and his experimental methods to “cure” women. Alice Winocour’s movie “Augustine” is based on the true story of a 19-year-old maid prone to inexplicable displays of “hysteria” (very possibly epileptic fits) who became one of the neurologist’s most renowned patients. After a seizure leaves her paralyzed on one side, Augustine is shipped off to the all-female psychiatric clinic, where Charcot begins using her as his principal subject, hypnotizing her in front of an enthralled audience of male physicians to demonstrate his theories on madness and neurosis. As Charcot and Augustine’s relationship continues, the boundary between doctor and patient starts to blur.

READ: ‘Mad, Bad and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors’ (2008)

Lisa Appignanesi’s ambitious, richly researched book explores the history of studying the female mind, investigating why women through the years have been categorized as “mad,” “bad” and “sad” far more often than men. Mixing evocative case studies — including Zelda Fitzgerald, Marilyn Monroe and Virginia Woolf — with medical theories by Freud, Lacan and “feminine psychology” pioneer Karen Horney, it’s a great dive into the complex history of mental illness.

WATCH: ‘Black Swan’ (2010)

Darren Aronfonsky’s story of madness isn’t set in an asylum, but the way it addresses desire, mental illness and personal demons — whether imagined or real — offers a contemporary take on the “hystericized” woman. Nina Sayers is a professional dancer who gets tapped by her troupe’s manipulative director to play the Swan Queen. The role consists of two personas: the sweet, virginal White Swan awaiting her prince, and the sexually provocative Black Swan, who lures the prince away. But the dichotomy proves too much for the already troubled ballerina, who soon starts having terrifying visions of her body’s metamorphosis into a swan.

READ: ‘The Fever’ (2014)

A former US factory town called LeRoy, between Rochester and Buffalo in New York state, made headlines in 2012 when 14 girls and one boy were afflicted with undiagnosed verbal and physical tics, in what was described as an episode of mass hysteria. Inspired by that event, Megan Abbott’s literary thriller chronicles a high school hysteria outbreak through the eyes of teenage Deenie, examining how the “contagion” unravels friendships, families and the community.

READ: ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (1892)
In this harrowing short story, American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells the tale of a young married woman suffering from a “temporary nervous depression” and “a slight hysterical tendency” after giving birth (yes, that would be postpartum depression). Her husband, a doctor, diagnoses her, prescribing her a radical rest “cure” that involves separating her from her baby and confining her to the top-floor nursery of a rented country house. Gilman wrote the book based on her own personal experience, after she was sent to a women’s mental health clinic for her postpartum depression.

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A Parisian landmark is cloaked from view

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

After three months of construction work at Paris’ famed Arc de Triomphe, the 160-foot-tall war monument has been completely concealed. The landmark, built during Napoleon’s reign, has been outfitted in 270,000 square feet of silver-blue polypropylene fabric bound with red ropes.

Encasing the Arc de Triomphe in cloth was a longstanding vision of the late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude — one that finally came into focus this summer. It began with 400 tons of steel beams erected like a metal jacket around the structure, followed by the wrapping, which was conducted by a team of climbers over the course of a few days. Following the project’s completion on Thursday, the arch will remain transformed for just 16 days.
Sixty years after Christo and Jeanne-Claude first conceptualized the project, the Arc de Triomphe has been wrapped.

Sixty years after Christo and Jeanne-Claude first conceptualized the project, the Arc de Triomphe has been wrapped. Credit: Benjamin Loyseau/Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

The unveiling of the installation, officially titled “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped,” comes 60 years after Christo first became enthralled with the idea of wrapping the monument, more than a decade after Jeanne-Claude’s death and over a year since Christo passed away last May. Originally scheduled for spring 2020, the project was first delayed out of concern for nesting kestrel falcons in the arch, and then because of the ongoing pandemic.

Like many of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s other projects, “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” is poised to be a fleeting, sublime encounter with an environmental artwork that interrupts the experience of the everyday.

Christo in his studio in New York City with a preparatory drawing for "L'Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped" in 2019.

Christo in his studio in New York City with a preparatory drawing for “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” in 2019. Credit: Wolfgang Volz/Courtesy Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

Vladimir Yavachev, Christo’s nephew and the project’s director of operations who worked with the artist for 30 years, explained that the shimmering color of the fabric and vivid ropes are Christo’s “poetic interpretation” of the blue, white and red of the French flag.

“He liked colors that also change with the weather, or the time of day,” Yavachev said in a video interview, adding: “The fabric is very reminiscent of Paris rooftops… which are very silvery gray.”

Transformative works

The married artists (full names Christo Javacheff and Jeanne-Claude de Guillebon) became internationally renowned for ambitious projects like “The Pont Neuf Wrapped,” revealed in 1985, and “Wrapped Reichstag” in Berlin 10 years later.

They used textiles to transform the natural world, too — everything from an 18,600-square-meter (200,000-square-foot) orange curtain, hung between two mountain slopes in Colorado, to a series of islands near Miami encircled in bubblegum pink fabric. A series of thousands of saffron-paneled gateways in New York’s Central Park, unveiled in 2005, was the last project they completed together before Jeanne-Claude suffered a fatal brain aneurysm.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped The Pont Neuf in Paris in 1985. Together, they used textiles to transform different environments and interrupt the everyday at a grand scale.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapped The Pont Neuf in Paris in 1985. Together, they used textiles to transform different environments and interrupt the everyday at a grand scale. Credit: Wolfgang Volz/Courtesy Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

The construction for “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped,” which took almost 12 weeks of nearly 24-hour work, was a more intense process than people might think, said Yavachev.

“It’s the perception of a lot of people that we just go there (to the Arc de Triomphe), throw some fabric and put some ropes (on it) and that’s it,” he said. “But that’s not at all the case.”

Christo and Jeanne Claude devised installations that could take decades to complete, requiring extensive permit approvals, legal hurdles and, often, environmental impact tests. (Some of the artists’ rejected or abandoned projects include wrapping the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, as well as suspending nearly 6 miles of fabric above the Arkansas River in Colorado.)

Christo and Jeanne-Claude's projects included hanging a curtain across two mountain slopes in Rifle, Colorado.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects included hanging a curtain across two mountain slopes in Rifle, Colorado. Credit: Wolfgang Volz/Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

Christo didn’t pursue wrapping the Arc de Triomphe until 2017. Having declined the chance to carry out an intervention in the piazza of the Centre Pompidou, he said the only project he would consider in Paris was wrapping the Arc. In an interview with CNN just before his death, however, he confided that he “never believed” they would receive permission.

“I am an artist who is totally irrational, totally irresponsible, completely free,” Christo said. “Nobody needs my projects,” he added. “The world can live without these projects. But I need them and my friends (do).”

Monumental undertakings

Anne Burghartz, an engineer on the project, said her team’s first task was to interpret the final form that Christo wanted. “In his drawings, you can see the shape is not 100% the Arc de Triomphe,” she said in a video interview. “It’s very boxy, it has vertical lines, whereas the Arc de Triomphe at the cornices, for example, is very pointy-shaped.”

They also had to determine how to keep the wind from dragging the fabric, while keeping it pliable to the elements. “(Christo) was also very fond of how he imagined the fabric would come alive with the wind,” she said.

Though machinery and advanced technology were used in the planning and installation of the protective steel beams, a team of climbers carried out the wrapping.

Though machinery and advanced technology were used in the planning and installation of the protective steel beams, a team of climbers carried out the wrapping. Credit: Wolfgang Volz/Courtesy Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

But, most importantly, Burghartz’s team had to protect the monument and all of its ornamentation, from the sculpted figures flanking each side of the entrance to the intricate cornices. Though the engineers had permission to drill some holes in the landmark they had to minimize damage. So, they installed wood panels between the steel and the arch’s concrete to protect it from scratches and built frameworks around its sculptures to keep them safe.

“​​Some of the statues have wings, they have swords, they have trumpets,” Burghartz said. “So we built these cages around the statues to protect them from the fabric, from the climbers and from the construction site work.”

To help build the outer structure, technicians used laser technology to survey the monument. The entire Arc de Triomphe was scanned by a drone, producing precise high-resolution images for the engineering team.

Work at the site took around three months to complete.

Work at the site took around three months to complete. Credit: Wolfgang Volz/Courtesy Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

In total, the project cost around 14 million euros ($16.5 million). But like all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, the “L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” will, according to a spokesperson for the project, be entirely funded through the sale of preparatory drawings and other original artworks. Sotheby’s Paris is hosting an exhibition and private sale featuring 25 of the artworks, with proceed going towards the project and the artists’ foundation.

“For Christo, the most important thing was freedom,” Yavachev said. “He and Jeanne-Claude did not want to (give up their) freedom by accepting grants or money or sponsorship from anybody else.”

"The London Mastaba" on Serpentine Lake was a smaller version of Christo and Jeanne Claude's final, posthumous project, which will be built in Abu Dhabi.

“The London Mastaba” on Serpentine Lake was a smaller version of Christo and Jeanne Claude’s final, posthumous project, which will be built in Abu Dhabi. Credit: Wolfgang Volz/Christo and Jeanne-Claude Foundation

This posthumous installation will be one of the late artists’ final acts, but they have at least one more feat in store: building the world’s largest sculpture. The Mastaba, conceived in 1977 and influenced by the architecture of Ancient Egyptian tombs, will be made of 410,000 multi-colored barrels in the Abu Dhabi desert. It’s a giant version of the last artwork Christo executed during his lifetime, a colorful mastaba sculpture in London’s Serpentine Lake in 2018. The Abu Dhabi installation will be the last major work that the artists’ team has the blueprints for, according to Yavachev.

“It might take another five years; it might take another 10 years. I don’t know,” Yavachev said. “But I’m confident that we’ll get it done.”

Video above by CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne, Angelica Pursley, Mark Esplin, Sofia Couceiro and Joseph Ataman.

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In Submarine Deal With Australia, U.S. Counters China but Enrages France

PARIS — President Biden’s announcement of a deal to help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines has strained the Western alliance, infuriating France and foreshadowing how the conflicting American and European responses to confrontation with China may redraw the global strategic map.

In announcing the deal on Wednesday, Mr. Biden said it was meant to reinforce alliances and update them as strategic priorities shift. But in drawing a Pacific ally closer to meet the China challenge, he appears to have alienated an important European one and aggravated already tense relations with Beijing.

France on Thursday reacted with outrage to the announcements that the United States and Britain would help Australia develop submarines, and that Australia was withdrawing from a $66 billion deal to buy French-built submarines. At its heart, the diplomatic storm is also a business matter — a loss of revenue for France’s military industry, and a gain for American companies.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, told Franceinfo radio that the submarine deal was a “unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision” by the United States, and he compared the American move to the rash and sudden policy shifts common during the Trump administration.

“America-is-back” foreign-policy message, had promised to revive the country’s alliances, which were particularly undermined by Mr. Trump’s dismissiveness of NATO and the European Union. Hopes ran high from Madrid to Berlin. But a brief honeymoon quickly gave way to renewed tensions.

The French were disappointed that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken did not make Paris, where he lived for many years, one of his first destinations in Europe. And they were angered when Mr. Biden made his decision on the American withdrawal from Afghanistan with scant if any consultation of European allies who had contributed to the war effort.

“Not even a phone call,” Ms. Bacharan said of the Afghan decision.

In his comments on Wednesday, Mr. Biden called France a key ally with an important presence in the Indo-Pacific. But the president’s decision, at least in French eyes, appeared to make a mockery of that observation.

The French statement on Thursday said that France was “the only European nation present in the Indo-Pacific region, with nearly two million citizens and more than 7,000 military personnel” in overseas territories like French Polynesia and New Caledonia in the Pacific and Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

Next week, Mr. Biden will meet at the White House with leaders of “the Quad” — an informal partnership of Australia, India, Japan and the United States — in what amounts to a statement of shared resolve in relations with Beijing. He will also meet with Mr. Johnson, apparently before the Quad gathering.

Given the Australian deal, these meetings will again suggest to France that in the China-focused 21st century, old allies in continental Europe matter less.

For Britain, joining the security alliance was further evidence of Mr. Johnson’s determination to align his country closely with the United States in the post-Brexit era. Mr. Johnson has sought to portray himself as loyal partner to Mr. Biden on issues like China and climate change.

London’s relations with Washington were ruffled by the Biden administration’s lack of consultation on Afghanistan. But the partnership on the nuclear submarine deal suggests that in sensitive areas of security, intelligence sharing and military technology, Britain remains a preferred partner over France.

Reporting was contributed by Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt in Washington; Aurelien Breeden in Paris; Mark Landler in London; and Elian Peltier in Brussels.

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Rare photos show the early years of NASA’s space shuttle era

Written by Jacopo Prisco, CNN

Keeping you in the know, Culture Queue is an ongoing series of recommendations for timely books to read, films to watch and podcasts and music to listen to.
NASA’s first space shuttle was meant to be named Constitution — a nod to the United States Bicentennial that year. But a write-in campaign by “Star Trek” fans prompted President Gerald Ford to change his mind.

Instead, the orbiter was called Enterprise, like the TV show’s starship. That’s why members of the “Star Trek” cast and crew, including Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Gene Roddenberry, could be seen among the crowd at the shuttle’s September 1976 unveiling.

They can also be seen, sporting quintessentially 1970s sartorial style, in one of the 450 previously unpublished and rarely seen images featured in University of Florida Press’ new book, “Picturing the Space Shuttle: The Early Years.” The publication chronicles the shuttle program from 1965 until 1982, ending just a year into the spacecraft’s operational life.
Former astronaut Deke Slayton, manager of the shuttle's Orbital Flight Test (OFT) program describes three upcoming "captive-active" phase flights at news conference in April 1977, as Johnson Space Center Public Affairs Officer Milt Reim looks on in the background.

Former astronaut Deke Slayton, manager of the shuttle’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) program describes three upcoming “captive-active” phase flights at news conference in April 1977, as Johnson Space Center Public Affairs Officer Milt Reim looks on in the background. Credit: NASA

“Most of the shuttle books that are available try to do too much and cover the entire program,” said co-author John Bisney in a phone interview. “And when you have 135 flights over 30 years, that’s difficult to condense into one book.”

Bisney’s book, which he co-authored with J.L. Pickering, instead offers a unique view into the early development of the shuttle, the world’s first reusable spacecraft, with a wealth of outlandish sketches and drawings of alternative designs — some of which still look remarkably futuristic.

“Some of the early concepts involved having the booster rocket also come back and land like an airplane, automatically,” Bisney said. “Unfortunately, it turned out to be pretty complicated.”

The Columbia in 1979, ready to fly piggyback on a Boeing 747, formerly owned by American Airlines (hence the livery). Some of its tiles were damaged, as visible, during a previous test flight on the back of the plane.

The Columbia in 1979, ready to fly piggyback on a Boeing 747, formerly owned by American Airlines (hence the livery). Some of its tiles were damaged, as visible, during a previous test flight on the back of the plane. Credit: NASA

Instead, the booster rockets splashed into the ocean after detaching from the shuttle, to be recovered and refurbished. A modern rocket like SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy has booster rockets that can autonomously descend back to Earth and land.

The shuttle — officially called STS, or Space Transportation System — first flew into space on April 12, 1981, with the distinction of having not been tested with an unmanned launch first. Astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen flew the orbiter, Columbia, for 54 hours before landing safely back on Earth. The book’s timeline ends after the fourth space shuttle mission, a test flight that paved the way for operational missions.

Many of the photos come from Pickering’s personal archive, one of the world’s largest private collections of manned spaceflight images.

“I give (Pickering) all the credit, and yes, he did have a lot to sort through,” Bisney said. “But one of our trademarks is to concentrate on unusual, rarely seen or unpublished images. If you go to the library and pull a book on the shuttle off the shelf, you typically see the same few hundred pictures in every book. And that’s understandable, because they are great pictures. But there’s a lot more to show you,”

STS-2 on the evening of November 11, 1981. It was the last time the shuttle would launch with a white external tank; the paint was removed for later flights to avoid unnecessary weight.

STS-2 on the evening of November 11, 1981. It was the last time the shuttle would launch with a white external tank; the paint was removed for later flights to avoid unnecessary weight. Credit: NASA

The sense of anticipation surrounding the shuttle program, which carried US astronauts in space for the first time since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975, is palpable in many of the images. The STS was retired in 2011, with five orbiters built (only four of which flew into space) and two lost to accidents, in 1986 and 2003, with a collective loss of 14 lives.

“When you have 135 missions it’s terrible to lose two of them. But spaceflight is risky business,” Bisney said. “I don’t think it’s ever going to be quite as routine as some people think it might be.”

Related video: Why NASA’s Space Shuttle was so revolutionary

Add to the queue

Watch: “Challenger: The Final Flight” (2020)

On Jan. 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven people onboard. Following the disaster, NASA grounded the shuttle for two and a half years while the agency tried to emerge from one of the worst periods of its history. The explosion was caused by the infamous O-ring, a rubber seal that helped keep the rocket boosters and the external fuel tank in place. Once the ring failed, due to freezing weather the night before launch, the external tank exploded. This design flaw, and NASA’s failure to address it, are carefully dissected in this powerful, four-part Netflix documentary, with unprecedented access to the families of those involved.

Watch: “The Space Shuttle” (2011)

This full-length documentary is free to view on NASA’s official YouTube channel, and is narrated by none other than William Shatner — the original Captain Kirk from “Star Trek.” It offers a comprehensive view of the technology and the mission setup of the shuttle program, with NASA personnel offering first-person points of view.

Read: “Wings in Orbit” (2011)

NASA’s own comprehensive history of the shuttle program is free to read online or download. With a focus on the science and the engineering, it leverages the agency’s vast human resources and unparalleled photo library.

Watch: “For All Mankind” (2019)

This Cold War history space drama from Apple TV+ imagines a hypothetical timeline in which the Soviets landed on the Moon first. The second season features a fictional spacecraft called Pathfinder (referencing an early mockup model of the shuttle, as well as a later Mars mission of the same name), with nuclear engines and a sleeker, more menacing look. It is equipped with weapons and can be seen happily trekking all the way to the moon — an impossibility for the real shuttles, which were never designed to leave Earth’s orbit.

Read: “The NASA Archives” (2019)

The ultimate coffee table book on NASA history, this volume features a vast chapter on the space shuttle program, with stunning large-format photographs accompanied by essays written by NASA commanders and mission specialists. The rest of the book covers all the major milestones from NASA’s first 60 years of operation (1958 to 2018), with over 400 images in total.

Top image: Robert Crippen and John Young aboard the Columbia in 1980.

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North Korea Fires 2 Ballistic Missiles as Arms Rivalry Mounts

SEOUL — North Korea launched two ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, the country’s first ballistic missile test in six months and a violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from conducting such tests.

Hours after the missiles were launched, South Korea announced that its president, Moon Jae-in, had just attended the test of the country’s first submarine-launched ballistic missile, making South Korea ​the seventh country in the world to operate S.L.B.M.s, after the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and India.

​The missile tests by both Koreas on the same day dramatically highlighted the intensifying arms race on the Korean Peninsula as nuclear disarmament talks between Washington and North Korea remained stalled. They also underscored the growing concern over regional stability, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan calling the North Korean missile launch “outrageous” and a threat to peace.

In its announcement, South Korea revealed that it had successfully developed a supersonic cruise missile and a long-range air-to-land missile to be mounted on the KF-21, a South Korean supersonic fighter jet, and that it had developed a ballistic missile powerful enough to penetrate North Korea’s underground wartime bunkers.

test-fired what it called newly developed long-range cruise missiles over the weekend. But the United States has not imposed fresh sanctions against the North for weapons tests in recent years. When North Korea resumed testing short-range ballistic missiles in 2019, Donald J. Trump, then the president, dismissed them for being short range.

The Biden administration has said it would explore “practical” and “calibrated” diplomacy to achieve the goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But North Korea has yet to respond to the administration’s invitation to dialogue.

“Rather than strengthen sanctions and military exercises, the allies have emphasized a willingness for dialogue and humanitarian cooperation,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “The problem with less than robust responses to North Korea’s tests is that deterrence can be eroded while Pyongyang advances its capabilities and normalizes its provocations.”

The North Korean missiles on Wednesday — launched from Yangdok, in the central part of the country — flew 497 miles and reached an altitude of 37 miles before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said. South Korean and United States defense officials were analyzing the data collected from the test to determine exactly what type of ballistic missiles were used, it said.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying that it “assumed” the missile did not reach the country’s territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone.

The news of the North Korean missile test broke shortly after Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, North Korea’s biggest supporter and only remaining major trading partner, finished a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, in Seoul.

“It’s not just North Korea, but other countries as well that engage in military activities,” Mr. Wang said when asked by reporters to comment on the North’s weekend cruise-missile test. “We must all work together to resume dialogue. We all hope to contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Mr. Wang didn’t elaborate, but appeared to be referring to the joint military exercises conducted by the United States and South Korea last month. North Korea has accused Washington and Seoul of preparing to invade the North, and usually counters joint military drills between the two allies with its own military exercise or weapons tests.

“The United States has no hostile intent toward” North Korea, Sung Kim, the Biden administration’s special envoy, said on Tuesday in Tokyo, where he met with representatives from Japan and South Korea to discuss the North’s arsenal. He said Washington hoped that North Korea would “respond positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions.”

The latest tests showed that North Korea continued to improve its arsenal of missiles despite a series of resolutions from the United Nations Security Council that banned North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose sharply in 2017, when North Korea tested three intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducted its sixth underground nuclear test, leading to the sanctions from the United Nations. After the tests, the country claimed an ability to target the continental United States with a nuclear warhead.

Mr. Trump met with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, three times between 2018 and 2019, but the leaders failed to reach an agreement on lifting sanctions or rolling back the North’s nuclear and missile programs. Mr. Kim has since vowed to boost his country’s weapons capabilities.

With the recent tests, “North Korea is seeking to increase its leverage in coming talks” with Washington, said Lee Byong-chul, a North Korea expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.

By timing its latest test to Mr. Wang’s visit to Seoul, North Korea also appeared to “express discontent with Beijing” that it was not providing enough economic assistance during the global health crisis, Mr. Lee said.

North Korea’s economy, already battered by years of devastating international sanctions, has suffered greatly as trade with China has plummeted in the coronavirus pandemic.

Motoko Rich contributed reporting from Tokyo.

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