U.S., Canada And Mexico Declare Combined Bid To Host The World Cup

U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati (center), Canadian CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani (left) and Mexican Football Federation President Decio De Maria present their unified bid for the 2026 World Cup at a news conference in New York City on Monday.

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What’s the best way to bolster your country’s bid for the World Cup?

The U.S., Canada and Mexico have settled on a unprecedented answer to that question: just combine forces. The chiefs of the three countries’ national soccer organizations broke the news in New York City on Monday, announcing their joint bid to host the 2026 men’s World Cup.

“When our nations come together as one, as we will for 2026, there is no question the United States, Mexico and Canada will deliver an experience that will celebrate the game and serve players, supporters and partners alike,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said at a news conference.

Though it would not be the first time countries have split hosting duties (see: the 2002 World Cup), it would be the first time three have done so.

Under the proposal the U.S. would host 60 matches, with Canada and Mexico taking 10 apiece — expanding the slate of venues to accommodate an expanded slate of competitors: Beginning in 2026, FIFA is raising the number of teams to 48 from 32.

The 1994 (U.S.) and 1970 (Mexico) World Cups have two of the four highest average attendances in World Cup history. #WC2026pic.twitter.com/eng30MRhMc

— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) April 10, 2017

Given the growth in countries competing — and thus the number of matches they’re competing in — ESPN reports the joint bid is now the odds-on favorite to win. The BBC also notes that because of a rotational policy, European and Asian countries will be barred from bidding for 2026, since Russia and Qatar have already won the right to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, respectively.

ESPN explains the next steps:

“All bids must be submitted to FIFA by December 2018. The bids will be evaluated over the next 15 months, with that phase being completed by February 2020. The host or hosts will be chosen in May 2020, before the next U.S. presidential election.”

Asked how the joint bid is viewed by President Trump, who has promised to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Gulati said at the news conference that Trump was “fully supportive.”

“We don’t believe sport can solve all the issues in the world, but — especially with what’s going on in the world today — we believe this is a hugely positive signal and symbol of what we can do together in unifying people, especially in our three countries,” Gulati said.

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Bank of Canada gets nerdy to celebrate anniversary

The Bank of Canada may not be known for its humor but it marked the nation’s 150th anniversary with a bit of whimsy, embedding a computer code in its website that lets users unlock a digital celebration.

Though Governor Stephen Poloz unveiled a commemorative C$10 banknote at a live ceremony last week, the central bank’s Web team had a nerdier take on the event.

The team programmed the Konami code, a sequence of keystrokes used by gamers, onto a bank webpage announcing the banknote. Enter the code on the page and your screen is showered with tiny C$10 bills as a tinny rendition of Canada’s national anthem plays.

“The response so far has been exceptional,” the bank’s spokewoman Josianne Menard said in an email.

The webpage here allows users to inspect the purple banknote front and back, but it is the entry of Konami code keystrokes – up up down down left right left right b a – that brings the announcement to life.

The code was first used in early generation computer games to allow players to cheat and unlock special in-game features.

(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Jim Finkle and Andrew Hay)

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East Bay Times Wins Pulitzer For Reporting On Ghost Ship Fire

Firefighters and medics near the site of the Ghost Ship underground arts venue in Oakland, Ca., after a fire claimed the lives of at least thirty-six people. The East Bay Times won a Pulitzer for its reporting around the tragedy.

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A massive fire at a Fruitvale district live work space has reportedly left an unconfirmed number of people dead died at an East Oakland work space, authorities said.

The fire apparently broke out about 11:30 p.m. in the 1300 block of 31st Avenue.

No other information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

So began theEast Bay Times‘ coverage, at 4:13 on the morning of Dec. 3, 2016 of a fire in Oakland. We would later learn the fire, which took place at a dense underground art space called “Ghost Ship,” had taken 36 lives. Today, the paper’s coverage of the disaster won a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting.

For 19 hours and 27 minutes following that initial publication — at 53 words, including typos — the East Bay Times expanded its story before ending the day with 1,388 hard-reported words. The first paragraph of the final version of the story reads:

Doomed partygoers trapped on the second floor of a crudely converted warehouse screamed, “Help us! Help us!” as one of the deadliest structure fires in Oakland’s history ripped through a tinderbox of makeshift living spaces and a labyrinth cluttered with art late Friday night, killing at least nine people and possibly dozens more.

Its coverage that day and in those that followed, including first-person accounts of the fire and a memorial to the victims, helped generate conversations worldwide both about local officials’ culpability in Ghost Ship’s lack of safety precautions to the wider responsibility of do-it-yourself and underground art spaces to monitor themselves.

As the Pulitzer committee explained, The East Bay Times won for its “relentless coverage of the ‘Ghost Ship’ fire, which killed 36 people at a warehouse party, and for reporting after the tragedy that exposed the city’s failure to take actions that might have prevented it.”

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Alabama's Governor Resigns Amid Scandal Over Alleged Affair And Cover-Up

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks during the annual State of the State address in Montgomery, Ala., on Feb. 7.

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Brynn Anderson/AP

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has resigned, after pleading guilty to abusing his office to conceal an alleged affair with a political advisor.

Supernumerary District Attorney Ellen Brooks announced Monday that Bentley “pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges: failing to file a major contribution report, in violation of Code of Alabama §17-5-8.1(c); and knowingly converting campaign contributions to personal use, in violation of Code of Alabama §36-25-6.” She added, “He has resigned from office.”

The Associated Press describes the scene as the plea agreement was signed:

“Bentley appeared sullen and looked down at the floor during the Monday afternoon session. …

“The agreement specifies that Bentley must surrender campaign funds totaling $36,912 within a week and perform 100 hours of community service as a physician. He also cannot seek public office again.”

The governor was briefly booked in Montgomery jail, according to local media reports, before heading to the state Capitol to announce his resignation.

Bentley had vowed as recently as Friday not to resign, saying he had done nothing illegal.

But the state Supreme Court decided to allow Alabama legislators to pursue impeachment hearings against Bentley, and calls for his resignation had been growing.

Last week, a panel investigating Bentley’s actions released a scathing report, as NPR’s Debbie Elliott reported:

“It lays out in sometimes sordid detail an extra-marital relationship between the 74-year-old Bentley and political advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

“The report accuses him of using state resources, including law enforcement, to hide the affair and protect his reputation, “in a process characterized by increasing obsession and paranoia.”

” ‘Governor Bentley’s loyalty shifted from the State of Alabama to himself,’ [special counsel Jack] Sharman wrote in an executive summary. He said Bentley ‘encouraged an atmosphere of intimidation’ to ensure the silence of his staff. …

“Political pressure for [Bentley] to resign has been growing since tape recordings were released in 2016 of him making sexually suggestive comments to Mason. Both were married at the time.

“Dianne Bentley later filed for divorce. The report says her suspicions of an affair were confirmed when Bentley mistakenly sent his wife a text that read ‘I love you Rebekah’ with a red-rose emoji.”

Also last week, the Alabama Ethics Commission found “probable cause” that Bentley improperly used campaign funds in connection to the alleged affair, among other ethical and legal violations.

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Have An Airline Complaint? Don't Call The Airline – Tell The Dept. of Transportation

A study released Monday found that U.S. airline quality is higher than ever, but air travelers may disagree. Passengers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport wait in line for security screening in May 2016.

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An annual study of airline quality in the U.S. gave airlines the highest scores in the 26 years the rankings have been published.

You may be wondering: How is that possible?

Topping the Airline Quality Rating for 2016 were Alaska Airlines, Delta, and Virgin America. At the bottom were Frontier, Spirit, and ExpressJet. The rankings are based on performance numbers the airlines must report to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as complaints made by the public to the DOT about the airlines.

The survey compiles data on four factors: on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled baggage and customer complaints in 12 categories.

The data shows that in 2016, airlines improved on-time arrivals and baggage handling, while reducing denied boardings and consumer complaints.

But the rankings reveal a few details worth examining.

In 2016, 81.4 percent of flights arrived on time, compared with 79.9 percent in 2015. Great news, right? Well, maybe not.

“While [the airlines] aren’t delaying too many flights, they’re cancelling a lot of them,” says Brent Bowen, one of the report’s authors, and professor and dean of the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

And it turns out that while airlines have to report their percentage of delayed flights to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, they aren’t required to similarly disclose canceled flights.

Instead, those canceled flights are only captured (if at all) in customer complaints to the DOT.

Still, the survey’s authors give the greatest weight in the rankings to on-time arrivals, because consumers have said that’s what’s most important. “If you do that, you’re good,” says Bowen. “If you don’t, you’re bad.”

But perhaps you find flight delays less annoying than the array of aggravations that fall under the “complaints” rubric – such as fares, cancelled and oversold flights, and problems with ticketing. Then you might want to avoid two airlines in particular: Spirit and Frontier. While both airlines had complaints go down since 2015, complaints about those two airlines are significantly higher than the industry average.

Which brings us to the biggest lesson from this survey: If you’re mad at an airline, don’t complain only to the airline. Complain to the Department of Transportation, too.

Only complaints lodged with the DOT are included in surveys like the Airline Quality Rating. So if you call Spirit or Frontier to complain about a litany of fees or a canceled flight, only the airline hears about it. Complaining to the DOT, meanwhile, can potentially lead to bigger changes:

“All complaints are entered in DOT’s computerized aviation industry monitoring system, and are charged to the company in question in the monthly Air Travel Consumer Report. This report is distributed to the industry and made available to the news media and the general public so that consumers and air travel companies can compare the complaint records of individual airlines and tour operators.

These complaints are reviewed to determine the extent to which carriers are in compliance with federal aviation consumer protection regulations. This system also serves as a basis for rulemaking, legislation and research. Where appropriate, letters and web form submissions will be forwarded to an official at the airline for further consideration.”

So what about all those angry calls, emails, and tweets that travelers make to airlines each day?

Complaining to the airline “gets the traveling public nothing,” says Bowen. “There is no AAA, no AARP of airline passengers. Travelers don’t have an advocacy with the airlines.”

And without that prominent advocate, conditions for air travelers may not improve.

As NPR’s David Schaper reported in October, the Obama administration proposed new rules aimed at helping air travelers. One rule would require airlines to refund a traveler’s checked baggage fee if luggage is “substantially delayed.” A second would require travel-booking websites, which often rank airlines higher or lower based on undisclosed payments or other business incentives, to disclose any financial links to airlines. A third would require regional carriers such as Allegiant or Air Wisconsin to also report their on-time performance data.

But last month the DOT, now under the Trump Administration, suspended the public comment period for those proposed rules. It said “The suspension of the comment period will allow the President’s appointees the opportunity to review and consider this action.”

2017 Airline Quality Rankings:

  1. Alaska Airlines
  2. Delta Air Lines
  3. Virgin America
  4. JetBlue
  5. Hawaiian Airlines
  6. Southwest Airlines
  7. SkyWest Airlines
  8. United Airlines
  9. American Airlines
  10. ExpressJet
  11. Spirit Airlines
  12. Frontier Airlines

2016 Total Complaints to the Department of Transportation for U.S. Airlines, per 100,000 passengers:

Alaska: 0.50

American: 2.49

Delta: 0.68

Express Jet: 0.51

Frontier: 5.94

Hawaiian: 1.16

JetBlue: 0.75

SkyWest: 0.49

Southwest: 0.47

Spirit: 6.74

United: 2.27

Virgin America: 1.85

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The Unexpected Cause Of This Awful Disease Lay Right Underfoot

The typical asymmetrical lymphedema (lower limb swelling) seen in podoconiosis. The skin on the affected limbs is thickened with warty and mossy nodules. The toes are disfigured toes with joint fixation typical of advanced podoconiosis disease.

Christine Kihembo/ASTMH & AJTMH

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Christine Kihembo/ASTMH & AJTMH

After you see a case of elephantiasis, you can never forget it.

People’s legs, feet and toes swell up so much that they can’t walk. Or move easily. The skin thickens and breaks open, creating ulcers and infections.

“It causes so much pain. So much pain,” says epidemiologist Christine Kihembo, at Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala, Uganda.

The trigger for the disease is typically a tiny worm. About the width of human hair, the worm lodges inside lymph nodes. Instead of the bodily fluid draining and moving around the body properly, it gets trapped in the extremities but also sometimes around the genitals.

Epidemiologist Christine Kihembo: “These people probably have been suffering silently without help for more than 30 years.”

Courtesy of Dr. Christine Kihembo

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Courtesy of Dr. Christine Kihembo

So when Kihembo started hearing reports of farmers with swollen extremities and thickened skin in western Uganda back in 2015, she and her colleagues thought they knew right away what the problem was: an outbreak of elephantiasis.

They traveled out to the community, which lives high in the foothills of western Uganda. “This is a very remote community in tropical forest,” Kihembo says. “They receive about four feet of rain each year and live at an average elevation of 4,000 feet.”

When Kihembo and her colleagues reached the area, the team identified about 50 farmers with the tell-tale signs of elephantiasis. And they started looking for the worm.

They took blood samples from people. Hunted down mosquitoes that spread the parasite. And even checked soil around the farmers’ homes.

But time and again they came up empty-handed. There were no signs of the worm anywhere, Kihembo and her team report Monday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

So Kihembo started doing disease epidemiology the old-school way: talking to people.

They interviewed more than 40 people with the disease. And found that nearly all of them had something in common: They farmed in volcanic rock — without wearing shoes.

Back in the 1970s, Ernest Price was a British surgeon living in eastern Ethiopia. And he noticed people had a risk of developing swollen feet, thicken skin and ulceration when they farmed in red clay soil — barefoot.

He called the disease podoconiosis, from the Greek “podos” and “konos,” which mean “foot” and “dust.” And since then, health workers have found cases of podoconiosis on three continents, from the mountains of Mexico to the volcanic ridges of Sri Lanka.

The disease is widespread along the equator in Africa, with 10 counties reporting cases. Ethiopia alone has at least a million cases and Cameroon at least half million, the World Health Organization says.

Scientists aren’t exactly sure how red clay soil triggers the podoconiosis. One hypothesis is that silica — or some other mineral in the soil — creates tiny slices in the skin and makes its way into the lymphatic system. Then the immune system attacks the mineral, creating a massive inflammatory response that eventually damages lymph vessels.

Instead of worms trapping fluid, the body’s own immune system causes the swelling.

The disease takes years to develop, Kihembo says.

“At first, farmers say they have pain, itching and swelling in their feet, in the evening, after working on the farm,” she says. “But in the morning it’s gone.”

This cycle happens for years until one morning, the swelling and pain don’t go away in the morning. Then the damage is hard to reverse.

“These people probably have been suffering silently without help for more than 30 years,” Kihembo says.

And there’s a surprisingly simple way to stop progression of the disease and prevent the problem in the future: Wear shoes while working in the fields.

“These people are not in a position to afford shoes,” Kihembo says. “As much as we wanted, we didn’t give them shoes because we didn’t have the means to.

“But really what the community needs is economic capacity so they can buy shoes,” she adds. “We pray and hope that we have the support to continue this work so we can help this community.”

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Ugandan Activist Nyanzi Arrested, Charged With Cyber Harrassment

University lecturer and activist Stella Nyanzi appears in court in Kampala, Uganda, on April 10, facing charges of cyber-harassment and offensive communication.

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Stella Nyanzi, one of Uganda’s most controversial academics and activists, appeared in court Monday after being arrested and charged Friday with cyber harassment and the misuse of a computer, for “shaming” the government.

Nyanzi’s latest run-in with the 31-year-old regime of President Yoweri Museveni began with a fight for free sanitary pads for school-aged girls.

“She’s the one person person who has dared to come out strongly in the country and say what many have feared to say many, many times,” said Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, an LGBT rights activist, shortly after leaving the court house.

During the 2016 elections, Museveni and wife Janet promised to provide free pads to poor young girls across the country. That’s important, because as this blog has reported, in several in-depth surveys of girls across Africa many reported that they did not have access to products such as pads, that their schools lacked toilets and that they had not been given even basic information about managing their periods — all of which can make it challenging for a girl to attend class during her period. In the surveys, girls also reported a range of concerns about their periods including fear, shame, and embarrassment.

The elections passed; Museveni won. Earlier this year, Janet Museveni told the country’s parliament the promise free sanitary pads wasn’t going to happen because the country was facing a tough economic climate.

Nyanzi was furious. She decided if the government wasn’t going to do it, she would give poor girls sanitary pads. So, she started a crowdfunding campaign and she also unleashed a torrent of criticism toward Museveni, his wife and his supporters.

Her criticisms flowed into her Facebook timeline. They were always pointed and sometimes profane.

In one of them, she writes that she refuses to call the president’s wife “Mama Janet,” as most Ugandas do:

“What sort of mother allows her daughters to keep away from school because they are too poor to afford padding materials that would adequately protect them from the shame and ridicule that comes by staining their uniforms with menstrual blood? What malice plays in the heart of a woman who sleeps with a man who finds money for millions of bullets, billions of bribes, and uncountable ballots to stuff into boxes but she cannot ask him to prioritize sanitary pads for poor schoolgirls? She is no Mama! She is just Janet!”

Uganda is a country where people usually speak ill of their president only in hushed tones. And with reason: The Ugandan government has been known to arbitrarily detain and in some cases torture its political opponents.

Nyanzi, a social science researcher and anthropologist, has been known for years in Uganda as a rabble rouser. Last year, when she had a dispute with her university, she protested by taking off all her clothes. She’s used humor and shock value to educate Ugandans on issues of sexuality. She once wrote a lyrical post about getting an STD. When educating girls about their periods, she used song and dance to teach them that there is nothing not love about their bodies.

But the attacks on Uganda’s first lady got her suspended from her university job. And that just seemed to fuel her fire. She posted one video of herself in front of her mother’s grave. If Museveni had bought medicine instead of bullets, she says, her mother and father would still be alive today.

She also posted a picture of her three young children. She wrote that people ask her: How could you speak so freely, so critically when you have young children to care for?

“My children will live through the coming liberation and the revolution,” she wrote. “And so, I speak the dirty truth to power without fear or favor so that my children will learn to breathe living fire to frozen governments. I take my children to peaceful protests and meetings for civil disobedience so that they learn their civic duty to defy this evil regime. For the children, I refuse your silence, your inertia and your sweet hollow words.”

When Nyanzi appeared in court Monday, prosecutors said she needed to be evaluated by a psychologist. They charged her with “cyber harassment” for comparing President Museveni to “a pair of buttocks.” Nyanzi was also charged with using the Internet to “disturb the peace, quiet or right to privacy” of Museveni.

Nyanzi rejected all those those charges.

Nabagesera, who is helping Nyanzi coordinate her response, says the arrest came on the same day they were supposed to deliver pads to the former parliamentary district of the first lady. The government, she says, was embarrassed.

Nyanzi and her supporters will keep fighting, Nabagesera says.

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Syria Casts Long Shadow Across Rex Tillerson's Big Trip To Italy And Russia

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson waits for the start of a meeting last month at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Tillerson is scheduled to travel to Russia on Tuesday, in what promises to be a difficult round of talks after the U.S. missile strike in Syria last week.

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Virginia Mayo/AP

Prompted by a chemical weapons attack, the U.S. loosed dozens of Tomahawk missiles last week on an air base operated by Syrian President Bashar Assad, the embattled ally of Russia. In the hours and days since the strike, Russian leaders have made no secret of their displeasure with the American intervention.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has dismissed these protests fromRussia, which helped broker a 2013 deal to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons — as, at best, “simply not plausible.” And at worst?

“Regardless of whether Russia was complicit here or whether they were simply incompetent or whether they got outwitted by the Bashar al-Assad regime,” Tillerson told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, “you would have to ask the Russians that question.”

For better or worse, Tillerson will have the opportunity to ask the Russians that question personally when he makes his first visit to Moscow as secretary of state Tuesday.

But that difficult conversation will have to wait a day.

First, Tillerson stopped in Italy to discuss the violence in Syria with a much friendlier audience: other G-7 foreign ministers. That two-day summit, which opened Monday in Lucca, brings together diplomats from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan — all of whom have expressed uniform support for last week’s missile strike.

While the conflict in Syria had always been on the docket for the G-7 talks, which serve as a warm-up of sorts for a bigger summit in late May, original plans had also included conversations about other global flashpoints such as Iraq, Libya and Ukraine. It’s unclear how much that agenda has narrowed — but it is quite clear the missile strike is already casting its shadow across the meeting.

Even before G-7 talks kicked off, Tillerson didn’t miss the opportunity to deliver a pointed reference to the suspected Syrian chemical attack.

“We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world,” Tillerson said during a visit to a World War II memorial to Italian civilian victims of the Nazis.

Diplomats at this week’s G-7 meetings are eager to hear the details behind that “rededication.” So far, the messages out of the White House have been mixed, as Reuters notes: Tillerson said this weekend “that the defeat of Islamic State remained the U.S. priority, while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said ‘regime change’ in Syria was also a priority for Trump.”

Yet while G-7 countries are seeking clarity, Russia — a former member of the group — has been perfectly clear about its own immediate reaction to recent events in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the U.S. missile strike “an act of aggression against a sovereign state delivered in violation of international law under a far-fetched pretext.” And Russia threatened to cut off a hotline between the Pentagon and the Kremlin designed to prevent unintentional violence between the two countries in Syria.

“The rhetorical cease-fire is officially over,” NPR’s Lucian Kim reports. “Their response was really fast. They had a statement up at 9 a.m. [last Friday] in five different languages. They never act that fast. They’re really, really, really upset.”

In some ways, the feeling is mutual. Many U.S. lawmakers haven’t accepted the rationale behind Russian intervention in Syria, and they are hopeful the U.S. can help persuade Russia to change its policy there.

“Russia has said all along that their intervention in Syria is really only to oppose terrorism, but it’s blindingly clear … what they are doing is facilitating an Iranian beachhead into Syria and a sustained presence there, and making possible the survival of one of the worst regimes in modern human history,” Sen. Chris Coons tells NPR’s Michele Kelemen.

Despite the friction ahead of the Moscow meeting, Tillerson himself has long-standing connections to Russia, having led Exxon Mobil’s operations there before he was named CEO. Putin even awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship. The relationship even attracted wary senators’ attention in Tillerson’s confirmation hearing earlier this year.

Ties between Russia and some members of Trump’s campaign team have been the subject of much scrutiny in recent weeks. Congress and the FBI are still investigating alleged Russian interference in last year’s presidential election, a scandal that continues to dog the fledgling administration.

Still, whatever friendly relations Tillerson and Russian officials might have enjoyed are showing some strain.

Tillerson is set to meet with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — but not with Putin. Reuters reports that Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, says that “right now there is no meeting with Tillerson in the president’s diary.”

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Du Yun's 'Angel's Bone' Wins Pulitzer Prize For Music

Du Yun, in 2015. Her opera Angel’s Bone was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for music.

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Chinese-born composer Du Yun has taken home this year’s Pulitzer Prize for music for her opera Angel’s Bone, it was announced today during a ceremony in New York.

In its announcement, the Pulitzer board wrote that the work “integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world.

The work, which includes a libretto by Royce Vavrek, premiered in January 2016 during the Prototype Festival in New York. The New York Times, in a glowing review of that show, wrote that it was “appallingly good” and that Du’s music “obeys only her own omnivorous tastes and assured dramatic instincts.” The piece tells the story of two fallen angels who are taken in, Misery style, by a couple that yearns for fame.

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A previous work, Zolle, which premiered in 2005, tackled similar themes as Angel’s Bone — displacement and an examination of the space between life and death. (You can hear that piece here, courtesy of member station WQXR.) She is also the artistic director of the MATA Festival and holds a PhD in composition from Harvard.

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