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2019
January
22
Tuesday

There’s something uniting about a movie theater. The lights go down, the screen flickers and comes alive, and for two hours we share, with complete strangers, a story that is usually far clearer than the world’s troubles that we have let fade temporarily into the background.

The ambiguity we find onscreen can be beautiful and alluring; not so the troubling questions swirling around those Catholic school boys and whether they provoked a run-in with a Native American elder. In a movie, an injustice has meaning; on a football field, a key blown call just seems grossly unfair and irreparable.

Today’s announcement of the film nominees for the 91st Academy Awards is another chance to come together. Sure, we’ll debate whether “Roma” or “Black Panther” is the better movie and if Glenn Close or Lady Gaga deserves best actress. But these friendly arguments, like the movies themselves, are something we share.

It’s disconcerting that the ceremony probably will have no host after comedian Kevin Hart pulled out because of old antigay tweets. (How old do one’s wrong comments have to be before society forgives them? Is there no host who can lead us through Hollywood’s big night?) But it’s not the first time. In 1969, when a deeply divided America was beginning to see student riots and to reexamine the Vietnam War, the 41st Academy Awards also had no host. Instead, Hollywood kicked off the event with Gregory Peck and a host of white and black A-listers: a reminder of our shared cultural heritage and how we still cheer our heroes on the silver screen.

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Now to our five stories for today, including a look at Russia contemplating government after Putin and a nonprofit that gives custom-fit clothing to men in need.

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1. Different art: In politics, Trump confronts another kind of dealmaking

A zero-sum negotiating posture – one side wins, the other loses – is counterproductive in Washington, where the two parties ultimately have to work with one another. Experts say probing underlying interests could reveal ways to satisfy both President Trump and House Democrats.

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In the business world, when one deal falls apart, there may be another opportunity elsewhere, with different people. In Washington, there’s one Congress and one president. Which means President Trump and the newly empowered Democrats have to find a way, sooner or later, to reopen the government – and they have to learn to deal with one another. If the current standoff represents a classic case of “positional bargaining” – one side wins, the other side loses – there’s an alternative approach, called interest-based negotiation. In this negotiation technique, the starting point is to look at the underlying interests, so that negotiators can craft an agreement that’s better for everybody. The problem is, as many observers have pointed out, Mr. Trump seems to be taking techniques he used in real estate and trying to apply them to a job that is far more complicated. “President Trump is accustomed to positional bargaining, and I’d imagine at points it probably has done him well in business,” says Daniel Shapiro, author of the book “Negotiating the Nonnegotiable.” “But in the Washington context, he estranges more and more people – and estranges those with whom he actually needs to work.”

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Different art: In politics, Trump confronts another kind of dealmaking

To gain insight into President Trump – and the government shutdown – read Chapter 2 of “The Art of the Deal.”

Many of the steps businessman Trump and his coauthor lay out in their 1987 bestseller reflect the president’s aggressive approach to negotiation today: Think big. Use your leverage. Get the word out. Fight back.

“My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward,” the chapter begins. “I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.”

Over the weekend, Mr. Trump got a taste of just how difficult negotiating can be in Washington. As the partial government shutdown over border-wall funding entered its fifth week, Trump offered what he called a “common-sense compromise”: temporary protections for “dreamers” and certain other immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion for the wall.

The offer seemed a departure from Trump’s aggressive style. But “The Art of the Deal” also preaches flexibility. “I never get too attached to one deal or one approach,” he writes. Last week, top Trump aides crafted the proposal with the Senate Republican leader.

Satisfying all constituencies in Washington, however, can be extraordinarily difficult – and with the House now in Democratic hands, enacting major legislation just got a lot harder. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s proposal a nonstarter before it was even announced, knowing that it would still contain $5.7 billion for the wall; high-profile conservatives slammed the immigration provisions as “amnesty.”

For Trump, now two years in office, it’s all part of the education of a still-novice politician.

“The complexity, the number of issues, and the number of parties at the table is exponentially more difficult in a presidential environment than dealing with some zero-sum, ‘one dollar more for you is one dollar less for me’ calculation in buying or selling a building,” says Marty Latz, a negotiations trainer and author of the book “The Real Trump Deal: An Eye-Opening Look at How He Really Negotiates.”

Another difference is that in business, when one deal falls apart, there may well be another opportunity elsewhere, with different people. As a businessman, Trump “really didn’t care about future relationships with his counterparts,” says Mr. Latz.

In Washington, there’s one Congress and one president. Unless Trump declares a national emergency and tries to do an end-run around Congress to fund the wall, he and the Democrats will have to come to terms to reopen the government, and, in general, learn to deal with one another.

The ‘School of Roy’ approach

Trump biographers point to other aspects of the president’s prior business practices as emblematic of how he operates today.

“It’s all about what you can get away with,” says Gwenda Blair, author of a 2000 biography called “The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire.”

“He follows the ‘School of Roy’ approach,” she says, referring to early Trump lawyer Roy Cohn, infamous for representing the red-baiting Sen. Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. “Never concede, never back down, double down, any accusation that comes your way, heave it right back.”

Keeping a quarter of the government unfunded for over a month – and 800,000 federal workers going without pay – might have seemed impossible, Ms. Blair notes. But that’s where things stand today.

On Tuesday, a glimmer of hope emerged when the parties’ Senate leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer, announced two procedural votes on Thursday – one on the president’s plan, the other to reopen the government through Feb. 8. The first measure looks sure to fail, while the fate of the second isn’t clear.

Through it all, Trump seems undaunted, despite polls that show more than half the country blaming him for the shutdown and his job approval in decline, including among his base.

Speaker Pelosi’s negotiating stance has also faced criticism. She insists the wall is “immoral” and offers just one dollar in funding. The moral framing, in particular, doesn’t leave wiggle room for compromise.

The Trump-Pelosi relationship was, until recently, respectful. “I like her,” the president said after the midterms. “She’s tough and she’s smart.” Notably, he has refrained from tagging her with a derogatory nickname.

Last week, their impasse over the border wall descended into tit-for-tat. Pelosi suggested Trump not deliver his State of the Union address from the Capitol, scheduled for Jan. 29, until the government reopened. The next day, Trump effectively canceled a Pelosi trip to Afghanistan. Over the weekend, Trump called Pelosi a “Radical Democrat” on Twitter.

This is not to say that Trump and Pelosi can’t make deals in the future. But for now, they’re both dug in, and both working their respective points of leverage.

Trump’s declining job approval – and growing share of the blame for the shutdown – have given Pelosi and her wingman, Senate minority leader Schumer, political leverage. The president didn’t help his cause when he told Pelosi and Schumer, in a televised Oval Office meeting on Dec. 11, that he’d be “proud” to shut down the government over the border wall.  

Still, overall support for the wall has grown, especially among Republicans. Today, 42 percent of Americans support the wall, up from 34 percent last January, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll.

Despite reports of a frustrated Trump lashing out at aides behind the scenes, his public posture remains defiant.

“He takes a broad-shouldered approach,” says Darren Frame, a businessman who now teaches negotiation at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

“Trump is really good at being the bad guy for a while,” says Mr. Frame, who uses “The Art of the Deal” as a teaching tool. “He’s pretty ego-driven, of course, which gives him a huge advantage in that he doesn’t worry so much about what people think of him, unless he thinks he’s wrongly accused of things. That’s when you see him fight back.”

A possible way out?

If the current standoff represents a classic case of “positional bargaining” – one side wins, the other side loses – experts say there’s an alternative approach, called interest-based negotiation.

“The basic idea here is, let’s not focus on positions, or what each side says they want: ‘I want a wall;’ ‘Well, we’re not going to give it to you,’ ” says Daniel Shapiro, director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program.

In this negotiation technique, the starting point is to look at the underlying interests.

“Why do you want a wall? Why do you not want a wall?” says Professor Shapiro, author of the book “Negotiating the Nonnegotiable.” “Is it the expenditure of funds, or is it differences in belief around security needs at the border? Is it precedents that you’re nervous about setting?”

Once the underlying interests are understood, then the negotiators can start to craft an agreement that works for everybody.

Shapiro pushes back on the idea that in the business world, Trump-style “positional bargaining” works better. Research shows that in most circumstances, interest-based negotiators do better, whether it’s in business, government, or the family, he says.

“President Trump is accustomed to positional bargaining, and I’d imagine at points it probably has done him well in business,” Shapiro says. “But in the Washington context, he estranges more and more people – and estranges those with whom he actually needs to work.”

Shapiro doesn’t let Pelosi and Schumer off the hook, either. In the Dec. 11 Oval Office meeting, everyone was posturing, he says, not engaging in productive dialogue.

The solution, he and others suggest, is to let subordinates work behind the scenes on a deal, away from the spotlight. The Trump proposal announced Saturday was crafted last Thursday by Vice President Mike Pence, senior adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Senate majority leader McConnell, and hailed by Republicans as an effort to break the stalemate. But there were no Democrats at the table.

Trump Senate ally Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina proposed reopening the government for a stretch, allowing workers to be paid and negotiators to work out a deal. Trump responded, No, let’s make a deal, then open up the government. Democrats insist on opening the government first, then negotiating a solution on immigration.

Senator Graham has supported the notion of Trump declaring a national emergency and repurposing federal money for the wall – a gambit that would certainly land in court. But at least Trump could tell his supporters he did everything he could. Trump has swung from saying he would almost definitely declare an emergency, to backing off the idea.

“In negotiation lingo, Trump calling a national emergency is his BATNA – his Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement,” says Shapiro. “But you know it’s clearly not attractive enough for him to, as yet, walk away from the negotiation table.”

Semantics can also play a role in conflict resolution, and allow both sides to save face. In any final resolution that involves money for the border, Trump can say he got his “wall,” Democrats can say they got “border security,” and each can declare victory to their respective political bases.

Blair, the Trump biographer, sees the border wall as more than just the fulfilling of a core campaign promise. It goes to the essence of what Trump is about.

“He has spent decades building up his brand – on buildings, on television,” she says. “His gut instinct, I suspect, is that the wall is part of the brand of being president.”

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2. New Russian order: After presidency, yet another role for Putin?

Russia faces a looming question: What follows Putin's current, likely final presidential term? An answer is beginning to take shape – and may involve a new position for Putin and a reshaped political landscape.

Maxim Shipenkov/Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin waves as he leaves the Temple of St. Sava in Belgrade, Serbia, on Jan. 17.

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As Vladimir Putin's fourth, and almost certainly final, presidential term heads into its second year, the prospect of a Russia without him is becoming real. The issue is no longer dominated by protesters’ loud declarations in the streets, but quiet conversations in the halls of power. The outcome may change Russia's constitutional system and determine what kind of country will emerge from what people now call the Putin Era. Experts say there are three basic ideas under discussion. One is the creation of a new state from a union of Russia and Belarus. But its realization has been thwarted by a host of practical obstacles. A second plan would expand the powers of the State Council, a Kremlin advisory body, making it something like the Soviet-era Politburo. The third idea is turning Russia into a parliamentary republic, and perhaps keeping Mr. Putin as symbolic head of state. Regardless, “In any authoritarian system, the most dangerous moment is the transition of power,” says Russian elite-watcher Olga Kryshtanovskaya. “Putin is aware of this threat, and he may be thinking about ways to support a new president, maintain stability, while letting Putin himself leave smoothly.”

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New Russian order: After presidency, yet another role for Putin?

For many years, the main slogan of anti-Kremlin opposition activists – often shouted as they were being dragged into police vans at street protests – has been “Russia Without Putin!”

As Vladimir Putin's fourth, and almost certainly final, six-year term as president heads into its second year, the prospect of a Russia without him is becoming real, if not yet urgent. The issue is no longer dominated by loud declarations in the streets, but by quiet conversations in the halls of power.

Inevitably, some are talking up schemes to keep Mr. Putin – and the relatively stable status quo he guarantees – in some position of having the final word on critical matters. Those are sure signs that a serious debate is beginning to erupt in Russia's political elite. Its outcome may change Russia's constitutional system, for better or worse, and determine what kind of country will emerge from the long period that people now call “the Putin era.”

“In any authoritarian system, the most dangerous moment is the transition of power,” says Olga Kryshtanovskaya, head of the sociological think tank Kryshtanovskaya Laboratories, and Russia's top elite-watcher. “There is often a smuta – a Time of Troubles – that occurs in Russia when a long-time strong leader leaves power. It can bring chaos, and a war of elites. Putin is aware of this threat, and he may be thinking about ways to support a new president, maintain stability, while letting Putin himself leave smoothly.”

A system dependent on Putin

For two decades, Putin has been Russia's indispensable leader. He inherited a country in serious disarray and restored it to order, rebuilt its economy, and made it an important player on the international stage again.

For most Russians, the Putin years have been relatively good – indeed, vastly better than the preceding, disastrous decade of the 1990s, which brought the country to the verge of disintegration. He accomplished this by recreating a version of Russia's traditional top-down, centralized, bureaucratic state, with a single incontrovertible leader at the top.

Today's Russians arguably enjoy higher living standards, greater personal freedoms, and even a healthier sense of national pride than at any time in history. Despite the geopolitical crisis of the past five years, which hit Russia with a double whammy of escalating sanctions and plunging oil prices, the country has demonstrated levels of political, social, and economic resilience that have confounded its Western critics.

One thing Russians have not gained in the Putin era is the power to control their country's destiny through a genuinely democratic political process. But polls suggest that, at least so far, majorities accept the implicit trade-off that gives them stability, personal freedom, and relative prosperity, but little say in the way government policies are formulated and carried out.

International tensions and stagnating living standards amid the crisis of the past five years have made life tougher, and unpopular decisions like raising the pension age have cut into Putin's once stratospheric popularity, but he still enjoys an approval rating of around two thirds.

To whom to pass the baton?

Most of Russia's political, business, and bureaucratic elites have acquired their positions during the Putin era. They all have much to lose if Putin were to leave suddenly, given the intimate embrace between wealth and power that characterizes the Russian system. No one will forget the last such transition 20 years ago, from Boris Yeltsin to Putin, which was incredibly peaceful and orderly by Russian standards. Yet it led to massive shakeups in the elite. Many of the Yeltsin-era business oligarchs were driven out of the country, their assets nationalized, and the survivors forced to declare fealty to Putin.

In that case it was Putin, a KGB veteran with a relatively independent power base in the former Soviet security services, who was able to enforce the terms of orderly transition. Twenty years later, the Kremlin towers above all other political institutions, and Putin has neither groomed a successor from within his own circle, nor permitted the free political competition that might bring one forward from outside it. Putin's problem, say some experts, is that he has no Putin of his own to pass the baton to.

“We no longer have any elite that exists separate from Putin,” says Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin adviser turned critic. “People connected to this regime depend upon it entirely, and they will cease to exist if they lose that connection. There are no guarantees for them if Putin leaves, so they are scared of that inevitability.”

There is no systematic polling data on how most Russians might react. The Levada Center, Russia's only fully independent public opinion agency, has included the question in focus groups that it conducts.

“What we find is that majorities take it calmly, most wouldn't mind if Putin stayed or if he left,” says Denis Volkov, a Levada researcher. “There are smaller groups, basically the poorest people and liberals, who want him to leave. But we do notice the trend that people in general are growing increasingly tired of Putin. It's hard to say how that might play out in the next five years.”

Three options

Just how Putin's reign might be extended seems to have entered public debate. Before the new year, Parliamentary Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin publicly voiced the idea of amending Russia's 1993 constitution to create a new post that would keep Putin at the pinnacle of power after he leaves the presidency in 2024. Earlier, the veteran head of Russia's Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, had penned a long piece in the government newspaper, Rossiskaya Gazeta, that seemed to argue against changing the country's fundamental law for such purposes.

Experts say there are three basic ideas under discussion for navigating the transition away from Putin, while maintaining Putin himself in some supreme capacity.

One is the idea of creating a new state from a union of Russia and Belarus, which would require new political structures to rule it. It's an old idea, and actually already exists in theory. But its realization has been thwarted by a host of practical obstacles. Such a state might give a new lease on life to both Putin and longstanding Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, and might be broadly popular in both countries.

“People are certainly talking about a new union state, which could solve a lot of problems,” says Sergei Markov, a former Putin adviser. “But it has proven to be very complicated to implement in practice, and it's not clear how it could happen now.”

A second plan would expand the powers of the State Council, a Kremlin advisory body that already deliberates on matters of high policy but has no formal authority. It would be possible to amend the Constitution to vest key powers in the council, making it something like the Soviet-era Politburo, with Putin staying on as chairman after his presidential term ends.

“It's not clear how much constitutional change would be required. It may be just a few amendments,” says Nikolai Petrov, a professor of political science at Moscow's Higher School of Economics. “The main thing is that Putin would have to maintain control over the military and security forces. We had a rehearsal for this during the four years [2008-12] when he stepped aside and Dmitry Medvedev became president, where Putin kept control while holding the post of prime minister. Now it would have to be more formal, an enduring system.”

The third idea is the path not taken after the Soviet collapse; turning Russia into a parliamentary republic, and perhaps keeping Putin as symbolic head of state. Many have argued through the years that such a vast and diverse country as Russia would be better served by a representative legislature than by one strong leader. That issue was resolved with gunfire in 1993, when Mr. Yeltsin destroyed the elected parliament and subsequently rewrote Russia's Constitution to vest the lion's share of power in the Kremlin. It is a solution that some political forces in Russia still favor, including the Communist Party, but one that experts doubt could emerge from the present political setup.

“There is no reason to believe that democratic institutions will just appear all of a sudden,” says Mr. Petrov. “In our present situation, most institutions are weakening while presidential power is growing. It is Putin who will decide the shape of political power, and there is no one today with the stature to contradict him.”

A matter of timing?

Some analysts, such as Petrov, believe that key decisions will have to be taken soon, so that the new power arrangements are up and running smoothly before the end of Putin's current presidential term in 2024. Others, including former Putin adviser Mr. Markov, say that the choices will be put off as long as possible, in hopes that Russia's deepening standoff with the West might resolve itself and thereby make it easier to risk a transition to a new elected president within the existing system.

“Russia views itself as being in a state of war, and Putin is the tried and true leader that we need to keep as long as that situation prevails,” says Markov.

Ms. Kryshtanovskya says the Kremlin furniture may be rearranged, but Putin will almost certainly stay in some key capacity for as long as that is possible.

“If Putin heads a state council, then that's where the locus of power will be,” she says. “It's not about the distribution of powers between the presidency, or the parliament, or any other body. It's just about the place where Putin will go.”

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3. After Nairobi attack, Somalis in Kenya cautiously hope for unity

In the wake of terror, communities often draw together to mourn and heal. But fear can prompt scapegoating, too. After last week’s brutal attack in Nairobi, can Kenyans pull back from deepening divides?

Thomas Mukoya/Reuters
Kenyan police arrived at the scene of an attack at the Dusit hotel compound in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 16. The attack, claimed by Somali-based terror group Al Shabab, has again tested relations between Kenyans and Somalis living in Kenya.

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Eastleigh, a neighborhood in Nairobi, is dubbed “Little Mogadishu”: the heart of a Somali community that first began arriving in the 1990s, amid Somalia’s civil war. On a recent morning, Kenyan and Somali vendors hawked goods from football jerseys to knockoff designer bags, as women rushed by grasping the hands of small children, their brightly-colored veils fluttering behind them. One week ago, the terror group Al Shabab, which is based in Somalia, launched a brutal attack on an upscale Nairobi office complex nearby, killing at least 21 people. For many Somalis here, the tragedy brought on an additional worry. After past attacks from Al Shabab, many Somalis in Kenya endured harassment, and thousands were detained in a crackdown that human-rights groups criticized for arbitrary arrests and abuses. “When a Kenyan person saw me,” says Zakaria, a young web designer, “they didn’t see a Somali, they saw Al Shabab.” But in Eastleigh today, some Somalis are hopeful that those perceptions are changing, after years of community leaders’ work to improve relations. “We are mourning together,” says Mohammed Sheikh, a member of parliament. “We are not going to accept anyone to divide Kenyans. We are not going to accept being divided by ethnic lines.”

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After Nairobi attack, Somalis in Kenya cautiously hope for unity

Abdimalik Anwar was sipping a cup of coffee at the popular Nomad Palace Hotel in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighborhood on January 15 when a friend called to ask if he had heard the news. A few miles away, militants linked to the terror group Al Shabab had stormed 14 Riverside, an upscale hotel and office complex, and the death toll was quickly rising.

Immediately, Mr. Anwar felt a jolt of fear. In 2013, when the Somalia-based Al Shabab had attacked the nearby Westgate Mall, some Kenyans had quickly turned their anger on the country’s large community of Somalis.

A violent police crackdown swept Somali neighborhoods, and many young Somalis like Anwar – who has lived in Kenya since he was an infant – endured bracing street harassment.

So this time, Anwar picked up his phone and began to tweet. It would be a mistake, he wrote, to once again equate Al Shabab with all Somalis, or to blame Somali communities for the group’s indiscriminate violence.

“We need to counter this narrative before it becomes a cliché,” he wrote.

But unknown to Anwar, a different conversation was gathering force on social media this time around.

“Protect Somali people and Muslims in general from the nonsensical harassment that this Riverside thing might cause,” wrote Bryan Ngartia, a Kenyan writer and performing artist, racking up more than 1,200 likes.

“No Somali or Muslim living in Kenya should worry about us Kenyans victimising them. Never. I love them brothers and sisters so much! Literally!” tweeted another user, to 1,500 likes.

For Somali community leaders, such messages of solidarity suggested Kenya was changing, and that their long campaigns to bridge the divides between Kenya and its Somali community were finally paying off.

But the messages were also a reminder that the nature of terrorism in East Africa was changing. Since 2013, Al Shabab’s influence had extended deep into Kenya and other nearby countries, and it was no longer a given that the terror group’s operatives would be young Somalis.

What makes a #Kenyan turn against Kenyans?” another Twitter user asked a few days after the attack, reacting to news that at least two of the attackers had been indigenous Kenyans.

For many Somali Kenyans, however, it was a question they had been thinking about for years.

Khalil Senosi/AP
Kenyan police make a routine patrol in the Eastleigh area of the capital Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 18, 2019. Extremists stormed a luxury hotel complex in Kenya's capital on Jan. 15, killing at least 21 people, in an attack claimed by militant group Al-Shabaab.

Memories of crackdown

Somalis began arriving in Kenya as immigrants and refugees in the 1990s, during the beginning of a civil war in Somalia. As the war dragged on, many put down roots in Kenya, and today there is a large community of young Somali Kenyans who have never visited their “homeland.”

In Nairobi, the community is centered around Eastleigh, a busy, cosmopolitan neighborhood often dubbed “Little Mogadishu.” On a recent morning, Kenyan and Somali vendors hawked goods ranging from English Premier football jerseys to knockoff designer bags, as women rushed by grasping the hands of small children, their brightly-colored veils fluttering behind them.

The scene is in stark contrast to how Eastleigh looked following a series of terror attacks in 2013 and 2014, residents say. 

Then, as part of a broad counterterrorism mission called “Operation Usalama Watch,” 5,000 Kenyan police and military officers were deployed to Eastleigh, where they carried out raids and arrested thousands, alleging terrorist ties or illegal migration. Human rights groups have criticized the campaign for arbitrary arrests and abuse.

“We saw so many Muslims, young Muslims, being picked up and disappeared, or shot dead around Eastleigh and Majengo area of Nairobi, and parts of the coast region,” says Otsieno Namwaya, an Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. 

Many were detained in Kasarani Sports Stadium, where they reported inhumane treatment. “There were so many incidents of violations, including arrests, disappearances, killings, extrajudicial killings,” says Mr. Namwaya.

It sent a message that Somalis specifically and Muslims more generally were collectively to blame for the terrorist attacks, advocates say, and many Kenyans seemed to take the message to heart.

Zakaria, a 30-year-old Somali web designer who asks to use only his first name, remembers that time well. He was a student living in Eastleigh when the crackdown began, and recalls being called a terrorist as he walked down the streets of central Nairobi. “When a Kenyan person saw me,” he says, “they didn’t see a Somali, they saw Al Shabab.”

Zakaria, who was born in Kenya, says he doesn’t blame other Kenyans for their reaction. Instead, he points to the media, the Kenyan government, and Al Shabab for driving suspicion between groups.

He often works from the Awjama Cultural Center, a small office that overlooks the bustling streets of Eastleigh. Inside, dozens of books on Somali culture and history line the shelves, and people of different ages and backgrounds work quietly. 

The center opened a month before the Westgate attack, but is emblematic of the ways that officials and community leaders have tried to bridge the gap between Kenyans and Somalis in recent years – and break the perceived link between Somali culture and Islamic extremism.

“The center has worked in the last seven years on how the Kenyan community can understand Somali culture,” says Mohammed Hassan, an Awjama board member.

Mr. Hassan says that he has seen relations between Somalis and Kenyans warm since the center opened, the product of years of intentional outreach, cultural workshops, and meetings with local religious leaders.

“There are non-Somalis who are visiting here daily,” taking arts and crafts workshops, participating in discussions about youth and gender, or simply looking for a quiet place to study. “There are non-Somalis who are doing activities of (Somali) culture.”

‘We are mourning together’

Another change has contributed to the shifting perception of Kenyans towards Somalis and extremism. In recent years, many of the culprits behind terror attacks have been Kenyan, not Somali.

“Al Shabab has recruited significantly within the last five years from Kenya and East Africa,” says Harun Maruf, a journalist at Voice of America and co-author of “Inside Al-Shabaab: The Secret History of Al-Qaeda’s Most Powerful Ally.” He notes how Al Shabab has increasingly been able to exploit local grievances such as lack of infrastructure, unemployment, and land disputes to recruit people who can execute attacks on foreign soil.

According to local media reports, at least two of the suspects in the hotel attack came from Kenya, and are recent converts to Islam. At least 21 people have been confirmed killed, and dozens more injured.

Terrorist attacks in Kenya aren’t “just Somalis attacking people,” says Roseline Atieno, a Kenyan living in Eastleigh. “I’m defending [my Somali neighbors] because all of them are not criminals,” she said. “The Somalis living in Eastleigh are innocent people.”

Somalis say that’s a heartening message, particularly given how long Somalis themselves have suffered under attacks by Al Shabab. In 2017, for instance, a truck bomb in central Mogadishu killed more than 500 people.

While Namwaya appreciates Kenyans’ supportive responses, he remains cautious because of past security campaigns.

“I don’t see [the Riverside attacks] being an exception,” he says. The recent arrests of about 20 suspects, he says, is likely “just the beginning.”

Last week, the district office in which Eastleigh is located held meetings with local Somali leaders, advising them on how to talk with their community members, and warning them to carry their identification cards wherever they went.

Still, for now there’s a cautious optimism that the delicate unity will last.

On the day after the attack, hundred of people gathered at the Chiromo morgue, a short walk from the scene of the attack, where people of many backgrounds had come to confirm the deaths of their loved ones.

“We are mourning together,” says Mohammed Sheikh, who is the member of parliament for Wajir South County. “We are not going to accept anyone to divide Kenyans. We are not going to accept being divided by ethnic lines.”

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Point of Progress

What's going right

4. Above the clouds, a silver lining: Ozone layer on track to heal

While projections of climate change consequences are dire, the international community has shown it can cooperate to achieve results on ecological issues, as seen in the reduction of the hole in the ozone layer.

NASA/AP
This combination of images made available by NASA shows areas of low ozone above Antarctica on September 2000, left, and September 2018. The purple and blue colors indicate where there is the least ozone, and the yellows and reds show where there is more ozone. A United Nations report released on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 says Earth’s protective ozone layer is finally healing after aerosol sprays and coolants ate away at it.

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There is a silver lining to the ominous hole in Earth’s vitally protective ozone layer, observed over Antarctica since the late 1970s. It’s not only showing signs of healing, it’s on track to fully close by midcentury. Concern over the expanding hole in the protective layer launched the Montreal Protocol in 1987, with 197 countries signing on to phase out the production of industrial chemicals that can trigger the breakdown of ozone. Scientists credit the protocol for the healing first reported above Antarctica in 2016 and, according to an executive summary recently released by the United Nations, expect the stratosphere to be fully restored by 2060. Researchers are calling the ozone’s shrinking hole slow but steady progress. “We sit on the ground and watch and wait like paint drying for this to happen, but ... it is drying,” says David Fahey, director of the Chemical Sciences Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory. Scientists hope that the success of the Montreal Protocol will encourage policymakers to embrace other international diplomacy projects addressing climate change. “We like to talk about it as giving encouragement to take on the harder problem,” says Fahey.

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Above the clouds, a silver lining: Ozone layer on track to heal

There is a silver lining to the ominous hole in Earth’s vitally protective ozone layer, observed over Antarctica since the late 1970s: It’s not only showing signs of healing, it’s on track to fully close by midcentury. 

Closer to Earth’s surface, ozone is a pollutant and the main ingredient of smog. But six miles up in the stratosphere, or ozone layer, it shields the planet from harmful solar radiation. 

Concern over the expanding hole in the protective layer launched the Montreal Protocol in 1987, with 197 countries signing on to phase out the production of industrial chemicals that can trigger the breakdown of ozone.

Scientists credit the protocol for the healing first reported above Antarctica in 2016 and, according to an executive summary recently released by the United Nations, expect the stratosphere to be fully restored by 2060. 

Researchers are calling the ozone’s shrinking hole slow but steady progress.

“The rates of those processes are sufficiently slow,” says David Fahey, director of the Chemical Sciences Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory and a lead author on the study. “We sit on the ground and watch and wait like paint drying for this to happen, but ... it is drying.”

Healing the ozone layer first takes preventing those harmful chemicals from getting into the stratosphere – that’s what the Montreal Protocol was about. It targeted chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemical compounds that were commonly used as refrigerants or propellants. The chlorine in the compounds can trigger chemical reactions in the stratosphere that break down ozone.

But, Mr. Fahey explains, “These ozone-depleting substances ... take a very long time to get out of the atmosphere.” Even when culprits like aerosol cans have been fully phased out of production, their effects on the ozone can linger for years.

In the lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere, there are already strong signs of progress: In 2016, chlorine levels in the troposphere (the lower boundary of the stratosphere) were 11 percent lower than at their peak in 1993. But ozone layer chlorine levels aren’t expected to return to the levels of 1980 until the 2040s. And in some parts of the ozone layer, the damage is so severe that it could take as many as two more decades to fully heal. 

Even with global efforts, scientists are concerned that the amount of CFCs in the atmosphere isn’t decreasing as quickly as expected. The slowdown is largely attributed to increasing emissions of CFC-11 – most likely in East Asia, according to a May report published in the journal Nature. (All 197 signers of the Montreal Protocol agreed to stop producing and emitting CFC-11 by 2010.)

“[Policymakers] are considering all those things quite carefully,” says Stephen Montzka, a coordinating lead author of the UN executive summary and lead author of the Nature report. “So we’ll have ramifications. I don’t know what they’ll be at the moment, especially since no particular country has been actually identified as the sole source or the main source.”

Additionally, a December study published in Nature Geoscience found that emissions of chloroform could also delay ozone healing. Chloroform emissions, which are not regulated by the Montreal Protocol, could add another four to eight years to the recovery projections.

If CFC-11 emissions continue to increase, they could push the general healing of the ozone layer back seven years, and the healing of the hole over Antarctica back 20 years to 2080, according to the UN summary. 

But steps are being taken to identify the worst offenders. And soon other ozone-depleting chemicals, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), will also be targeted. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, requiring nations to significantly decrease their production of HFCs, will go into effect for developed countries in 2019 and developing countries in 2024. 

This change is expected to have the added benefit of helping to reduce global temperatures. And scientists hope that the success of the Montreal Protocol will encourage policymakers to embrace other international diplomacy projects addressing climate change.

“[The ozone layer] was an easy problem. Even as complicated and as difficult and time consuming as this was, climate is far more complex and demanding of the world,” Fahey said. “We like to talk about it as giving encouragement to take on the harder problem.”

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Difference-maker

Drivers of change

5. One clothier’s offering: a sense of dignity, made to order

Self-presentation can make all the difference in life – especially during formal occasions like job interviews. That's why Christopher Schafer has made it his mission to help men in need find the perfect suit.

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Since 2011, Sharp Dressed Man has been helping men improve their lives by equipping them for job interviews and other occasions with well-fitting suits and accessories. This isn’t a “grab any jacket off the rack” kind of experience; rather, the nonprofit provides a measure-to-fit, personalized styling experience. The nonprofit was founded by clothing designer Christopher Schafer, who sought to give those in need an experience more like a visit to his custom clothing shop than stopping at a warehouse that has donated suits. “I believe we have dressed about 7,000 people,” Schafer says. Today, the nonprofit operates in Baltimore as well as Los Angeles, owing to a recent expansion. Schafer sees the nonprofit as bridging the gap between job training and the look required for a person to land a job. That can mean anything from helping to suit a job applicant who has just been released from prison to assisting a homeless veteran. “There is a difference between a hand up and a handout. What we are trying to do is a hand up,” he says. “If you treat a guy with dignity, he has a better chance of treating himself with dignity.”

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One clothier’s offering: a sense of dignity, made to order

On a frigid December afternoon, Tyler Freburger is standing in front of a set of mirrors wearing a suit picked out for him by a tailor. He sorely needs the attire for a funeral later in the week.

A homeless veteran living in Baltimore, Mr. Freburger would usually have difficulty securing such an outfit, especially one selected for him personally. But in this instance, he was referred to the nonprofit Sharp Dressed Man

Since 2011, the organization has been helping men improve their lives by equipping them for job interviews and other occasions with well-fitting suits and accessories. This isn’t a “grab any jacket off the rack” kind of experience; rather, the nonprofit provides a measure-to-fit, personalized styling experience.

“It’s a blessing that they are here,” says Freburger, who notes that the organization has treated him well and has been working to supply what he needs – something he is not accustomed to in his daily life. “It’s really nice that they provide suits to people who need them.”

The nonprofit was founded by clothing designer Christopher Schafer, who sought to give those in need an experience more like a visit to his custom clothing shop than stopping at a warehouse that has donated suits.

Ann Hermes/Staff
Clothier Christopher Schafer established Sharp Dressed Man to give men in need a measure-to-fit, personalized styling experience.

“When you walk them through the process and you educate them and you ask them what it is that they like, it really makes the clothing theirs,” Mr. Schafer says. “We give them the clothes, but we want it to be clothing that they feel good in; when you feel good, you look good.”

Schafer has been designing clothes for more than a decade. And he opened a shop in downtown Baltimore not long after returning from London, where he lived for a time and learned about the art of measuring and design. When Schafer was delivering some custom suits to a client, he was handed two bags of gently worn suits in return. [Editor's note: This paragraph was inadvertently deleted from the original version of the story.]

“He said I spoiled him with how I made his custom suits fit, and he couldn’t wear his old suits anymore,” Schafer says. “They were still very nice, and he didn’t know where to take them.”

Schafer found a nonprofit that would accept the suits and put them to good use, but as time went on, more of his clients did the same thing. At the suggestion of a friend, he decided to launch his own nonprofit, Sharp Dressed Man. 

The organization’s space resembles a traditional men’s clothing store, complete with volunteer tailors with tape measures around their necks, and racks upon racks of clothing. It’s open one day a week for those who have been referred.

“Since those two bags of clothes, I believe we have dressed about 7,000 people,” Schafer says. Today, the nonprofit operates in Baltimore as well as Los Angeles, owing to a recent expansion. It focuses on providing suits and dress clothing just to men, which Schafer has identified as a particular need.

Schafer sees the nonprofit as bridging the gap between job training and the look required for a person to land a job. 

“There is a difference between a hand up and a handout. What we are trying to do is a hand up,” he says. “If you treat a guy with dignity, he has a better chance of treating himself with dignity.”

That can mean anything from helping to suit a job applicant who has just been released from prison to assisting a retiree like Clarence Green.

“It is a great service, especially for the people who don’t have much,” says Mr. Green after his fitting for a sport coat. “It helps people to present very well.”

Schafer reflects on the transformations he’s witnessed. “It is really powerful when you see guys when they are suited up and they are kind of glowing,” he says.

Ann Hermes/Staff
Edward Herring gets a haircut from volunteer barber Pablo Eberle at a December event at Sharp Dressed Man.

Since its inception, Schafer says, Sharp Dressed Man has operated with the support of committed volunteers and on a “shoestring budget,” coming in around $50,000 in 2018. Those tight margins have been really tight at times, including in the wake of a minor electrical fire that displaced the organization from a former location. 

Most funding comes from donations from individuals, though State Farm recently awarded the nonprofit a $25,000 grant. Schafer plans to pursue additional grant funding to hire an executive director who could help the organization continue expanding. One possibility is adding a program to teach men the art of tailoring. 

For Schafer, aiding others through Sharp Dressed Man is deeply personal. 

“I had a battle with drugs and alcohol for 20 years, and if I wouldn’t have changed my life, I either would have been dead or I would have been in line asking for free soup,” he says. “They say that if you want to keep it, you have to give it away. This is how I figured out how I can give it away, and help other people with my God-given talent and what I know about clothing.”

“That’s why I do it,” he adds.

For more, visit sharpdressedman.org. And for a Monitor video about Sharp Dressed Man, click here.

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The Monitor's View

Dousing the fires of corruption

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On Jan. 22 – four days after more than 90 people were killed in an explosion while stealing fuel from a state-owned pipeline – Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, began a tour. Mr. López Obrador, or AMLO as he is known, visited municipalities where theft from gasoline pipelines is high. But instead of announcing a crackdown on local thieves – most of them impoverished farmers – he described plans to offer them an alternative. “The most humble people,” he promised, “are going to have a way to work honorably without a need for these activities.” AMLO also reacted in other affirmative ways. He promised government accountability, something Mexicans have sought. Early in his campaign AMLO had announced steps to combat gas theft. He deployed security forces, for example, to guard pipelines. Yet key to his anti-corruption campaign is offering opportunities to help people reject the lure of criminal activity.  The persistence of corruption may require such an approach. AMLO’s tour should serve as an example of how creating good for others can help vanquish evil better than merely attacking it.

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Dousing the fires of corruption

Sometimes the battle against corruption is driven by more than righteous indignation at the guilty. On Jan. 22, for example, Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, began a tour of municipalities where theft from gasoline pipelines is high. Just four days earlier, at least 90 people had been killed in a massive explosion while stealing fuel from an illegally tapped pipeline in the state of Hidalgo.

Instead of cracking down on such local thieves – most of them impoverished farmers – Mr. López Obrador, or AMLO as he is known, plans to offer them an alternative. “The most humble people are going to have incomes,” he promised. “They are going to have a way to work honorably without a need for these activities.”

His new welfare plan is aimed at the 80 municipalities known for their huachicoleros, or bands of thieves who clandestinely siphon fuel from state-owned pipelines. In Mexico, the price for just 1.3 gallons of gasoline is equivalent to the daily minimum wage.

“We have the conviction that the people are good, that they are honest, that if they arrived at these extremes, these practices, it’s because they were completely abandoned” by the rest of society, he said.

AMLO also reacted in other affirmative ways. Compared with previous presidents, he was unusually transparent about the details of the fiery tragedy. “We must put honesty first as a way of life and as a form of government,” he said. He also promised accountability for officials of the state-owned petroleum company, Pemex, and any soldiers who may have been slow or negligent in preventing the incident. Mexicans are eager for government accountability.

Fuel theft costs Mexico about $3 billion a year. Worldwide, an estimated $130 billion or more is lost to hydrocarbons crime, such as smuggling, according to a 2017 study by the Atlantic Council. In Nigeria, some 30 percent of refined petroleum product is lost to some form of theft.

In December, as part of his overall campaign for honest governance, AMLO began to demand more tanker trucks be used to transport gasoline in order to stop pipeline theft. He also deployed security forces to guard pipelines. Yet key to his anti-corruption campaign is offering opportunities, such as scholarships and internships, to assist people in rejecting the lure of criminal activity. “We’ll find a way to face the violence problem without using force,” he says.

The persistence of corruption in the world may indeed require such an approach. “The fight against corruption mobilizes all of us because we want to do away with evil and injustice. But we should remember that casting the bad into the sea does not imply the sudden appearance on our shores of the good that we need,” writes Ricardo Hausmann, professor of the practice of economic development at Harvard University.

AMLO’s tour of municipalities after the Jan. 18 tragedy should serve as an example of how creating good for others can help vanquish evil better than merely attacking it.

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A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

Ah, light!

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Today’s contributor shares spiritual ideas that brought the light he needed to understand his life’s purpose.

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Ah, light!

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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One of the most enthralling art exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston in 2018 included masterpieces by Dutch and Flemish painters.

People who were barely aware of the output of these 17th-century artists were suddenly entranced by portraits, still lifes, and landscapes they scarcely knew existed. The lines outside the museum were so intimidating for several weeks that the exhibition was extended by four months.

What captivated viewers was the way those painters handled light. Fabrics came alive. The shadows cast by undulating silk fabrics were soft and subtle. Smiling faces were caught through daring brushstrokes that outshone even the creative genius of today’s digital world.

To me, it wasn’t an outer brightness but an inner brightness that was communicated through each of these paintings. As a lover of the Scriptures, I was reminded of this passage from the book of Isaiah: “The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light” (60:19, New International Version). Our everlasting light!

I’ve come to realize that there is a reflected light, aglow with Soul and Truth (which are helpful synonyms for God from the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy), that all of us naturally express as God’s children. God’s presence illumines our thoughts and dispels the darkness in our thinking – chasing away confusion, shame, hopelessness, fear, lack of direction, and so on. We discover, as Science and Health states, that “as light destroys darkness and in the place of darkness all is light, so (in absolute Science) Soul, or God, is the only truth-giver to man” (p. 72).

How well I recall a most desperate call for light – the light needed for me to understand my life’s purpose. I was in my final year at a large university at a time when jobs were scarce, and I had heaped up some daunting loans. Cautiously, I had chosen to major in mathematics. This wasn’t my best subject, but I had been persuaded to stick with it because math teachers were desperately needed in our community, and this qualification seemed to guarantee a job the moment I graduated. But my grades were below those required.

I’d been attending a Christian Science Sunday School, and I remember my teacher encouraging me to make time for prayer based on the light and wisdom revealed in the Bible and in Science and Health.

In the Bible I read about a desperate man named Job asking where wisdom could be found, for “even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it” (Job 28:21, The Living Bible). But almost immediately comes the firm assurance in verse 27 that God “knows where wisdom is and declares it to all who will listen. He established it and examined it thoroughly.”

I was also inspired by a spiritual explanation of the word “intelligence” in the Glossary of Science and Health: “Substance; self-existent and eternal Mind; that which is never unconscious nor limited” (p. 588).

The light of spiritual understanding flooded my thought as I prayed and studied. I realized that as God’s child, or the spiritual expression of the intelligence of the one eternal divine Mind, I already had the ability to comprehend all I needed to know.

As I continued praying with these ideas, my last few weeks of study were without strain or anxiety. And although I didn’t get an A, I passed the class with an honorable mention for my practical teaching skills.

As it happened, I didn’t become a math teacher. I began a long career as a journalist, rejoicing in a myriad of fresh and different ways of responding to this call of Christ Jesus’: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, King James Version).

Backed by prayer and a deepening grasp of where true intelligence comes from, I sought to glorify God’s goodness in every report I wrote. I realized that this was where I could consistently let my light shine. So I do have a keen appreciation of what “light” represents. I guess you could say that I look for ways I can put God’s light on display each day of my life.

Adapted from an article published in the Jan. 7, 2019, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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Viewfinder

A dusting for County Durham

Owen Humphreys/PA/AP
A snow-covered farmhouse in Teesdale, in northeast England, shows the effects of a band of wintry weather that brought snow and a risk of ice to large parts of the country.
( The illustrations in today's Monitor Daily are by Jacob Turcotte. )
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