You’ve heard of Thomas Piketty, non? In just a few short weeks this spring, the French economist has gone from dismal scientist to intellectual superstar. This past weekend, his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, hit No. 1 on Amazon and came up in six New York Times articles. One hundred and forty years after Alexis de Tocqueville came back to France with the news that he’d found true égalité in America, his countryman has arrived on our shores to deliver the opposite news: Not only is the U.S. doomed to accelerating inequality, but so are all capitalist societies, absent some fairly serious interventions — mostly taxes. The tough prognosis in Capital runs across nearly 700 graph-dappled pages and three centuries of economic history. No serious economist could afford to ignore its mountains of fresh data and analysis, but for the rest of us, it’s a heavier lift. Hence Piketty’s New York publicity push last week — a different kind of endurance test, involving midtown traffic, a publicist shouting “Short answers!,” and the unbridled fury of a WNYC producer facing 30 minutes of dead air.
Mike Woodson's dismissal as Knicks head coach had been widely expected since the Knicks' disappointing 37-45 season ended last week. Woodson wasn't involved in players' exit interviews last week, and as if to add one final bit of silly drama to his tenure in New York, reports last week focused on the "standoff" between Woodson and Phil Jackson, neither of whom seemed to have much interest in meeting face-to-face to discuss Woodson's future. In fact, talk had already shifted to who would replace Woodson even before he was formally fired: One report said that Steve Kerr "absolutely" expects to be offered the Knicks' coaching job, and that he'd take it if the offer is made. And so today the Knicks made it official: Woodson — and his entire coaching staff — have been relieved of their duties.
NBC’s Very Serious™ Sunday talk-show Meet the Press spent more than a decade at No. 1 in the ratings under Tim Russert, but it’s been hemorrhaging viewers for the last three years. These days, the David Gregory–hosted program, TV’s longest-running show ever, is in third place behind CBS’s Face the Nation and ABC’s This Week, having hit bottom in the most valuable 25-to-54 age demo. But NBC is not just sitting idly by and watching Gregory sink the ship — it’s been revamped to move faster through broader segments, while dedicating special attention to finding out what the heck is wrong with its host.
Welcome back to the New York Magazine Competition. On alternate Mondays, we lay out a challenge and offer a sample responses. Enter in the comments section, or on Twitter with the hashtag we've provided, and the editors will select a winner. Criteria are highly subjective, but heavily retweeted and favorited posts will have an advantage. The prize is a year's subscription to New York in print or a two-year subscription to the iPad edition (winner's choice). Full rules are here.
Brooklyn’s Arkady Shenker, a 49-year-old veteran jumper with more than 350 successful attempts, died on Sunday after his parachute failed to deploy. He was discovered in a suburban yard wearing a “wing suit,” a specialized outfit designed to let a diver move forward during descent, although no details of the malfunction have been provided.
NSA leaker and indefinite Russian tourist Edward Snowden is not yet a pro at PR. After he showed up on state television to lob Vladimir Putin a question about the country’s own surveillance apparatus — Putin dunked an incredulous, anti-U.S. blanket denial — Snowden tried to explain that he was hoping to get Putin’s “evasive response” on the record. Now Snowden’s allies are admitting the whole thing was a bad look. “I don’t think there’s any shame in saying that he made an error in judgment,” an anonymous source close to Snowden told the Daily Beast.
Hopefully the 16-year-old who climbed to the top of the World Trade Center last month enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame, because a teen on the other side of the country just pulled off an even more incredible stunt. On Sunday, a 16-year-old boy hid in the wheel well of a plane heading from California to Hawaii, according to FBI and airline officials. Despite the freezing temperatures and lack of oxygen at 38,000 feet, the stowaway was unharmed during the five and a half hour flight. "Kid’s lucky to be alive," said FBI spokesman Tom Simon.
Though the captain of the South Korean ferry that capsized last week has tried to defend his decision to wait half an hour to begin evacuating the ship, on Sunday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye condemned him and his crew, describing their actions as "unfathomable from the viewpoint of common sense, unforgivable, murderous behavior." Alluding to a newly released transcript that reveals marine traffic controllers told the crew to prepare passengers for evacuation, Park said during a televised cabinet meeting that the crew "told the passengers to stay put while they themselves became the first to escape." "Legally and ethically," she added, "this is an unimaginable act."
The name "Malaysia Airlines" inspires little confidence these days, so another mishap is the last thing the company needed, even if it was relatively minor. On Monday, a Malaysia Airlines flight bound for Bangalore, India was forced to make an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur. Flight 192's tire burst upon takeoff, and the pilot was told to turn back after debris was found on the runway. The flight landed safely and is scheduled to depart again later in the day. Meanwhile, the Australian agency coordinating the search for Flight 370 said the Bluefin-21 submarine has completed its eighth underwater mission. It has now covered two thirds of the underwater search area, but "no contacts of interest have been found."
Starting on June 26, Today viewers won't have to switch off the show when they head off for work. As part of a new deal with NBC, SiriusXM will simulcast all four hours of Today, and replay the show later in the day. "This means a chance to be exposed to 26 million listeners, some of whom are not Today viewers," Deborah Turness, the president of NBC News, tells the New York Times. Good Morning America, Today's arch-nemesis, briefly ran on XM radio several years ago, but SiriusXM President Scott Greenstein says it failed because, "it was cut up, not a full-blown version of the show." Why tune in if you can't hear all of Savannah Guthrie's comments about a fashion show you can't see?