—Iraqi government forces and Kurdish militia launched a new operation Sunday near Mosul, the Iraqi city that has been held by Islamic State militants since 2014.
—Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump vowed to take legal action against the women who have accused him of sexual assault or other similar behavior. “All of these liars will be sued once the election is over,” Trump said during a speech Saturday in Pennsylvania. He added later: “I look so forward to doing that.” More here.
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4).
Spain's Socialist Party has agreed to allow the conservative Popular Party to form a new government, ending months of political stalemate that began late last year after an inconclusive election.
Socialist Party leaders decided Sunday not to block the election of Mariano Rajoy, the Popular Party’s leader, as prime minister. The Socialist Party, commonly known by the abbreviation PSOE, voted 139 to 96 in favor of abstaining from the parliamentary vote, which was scheduled for next weekend. The decision means Rajoy will remain in the office of prime minister, which he has held on an acting basis since December 2015. His Popular Party gained the most votes in national elections in December and June, but did not win an overall majority. PSOE came in second in both elections. Rajoy has served as acting prime minister since.
Mr. Rajoy will have to lead a minority conservative government that faces serious territorial and budgetary challenges. Spain has been threatened with a European Union fine for failing to meet deficit targets agreed with Brussels. And the separatist regional government in Catalonia has pledged to hold an independence referendum in 2017, despite fierce opposition from Madrid and Spanish courts.
PSOE’s decision allows the country to avoid a third election in less than a year. Earlier this month, PSOE forced out its leader, Pedro Sanchez, because he was opposed against a vote of abstention that would cement Rajoy's government.
At least 13 people were killed and more than 30 were injured Sunday in California when a tour bus collided with a tractor-trailer.
The accident occurred at about 5 a.m. local time on Interstate 10, near Palm Springs, police said. Most of the victims were sitting in the front of the bus, which officials say was traveling at “a significant speed” when it hit the back of the truck. Photos from the scene show the front of the bus was destroyed.
The cause of the collision is not yet known. The driver was among the fatalities.
Desert Regional Medical Center, which has the Coachella Valley’s only trauma center, received 14 adult patients, including five who were in critical condition, said public information officer Richard Ramhoff.
Eisenhower Medical Center received 11 adult patients, all with minor injuries, said public information officer Lee Rice.
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital received five adult patients with minor injuries, including neck strain and cuts and abrasions, said nursing supervisor Stephen Williams.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.
A worker in Qatar has died during a construction accident at a stadium being built for the country's World Cup tournament in 2022.
The worker died Saturday morning at Al Wakrah Stadium, a 40,000-capacity venue scheduled to be completed by 2018, according to the AP. Officials did not identify the worker, but said his family has been notified. Qatar has previously reported three deaths at building sites for the soccer competition, but said those were not "work-related,"
Human-rights groups have accused Qatar of abusing the labor force behind the tournament, mostly migrant workers from other countries. This spring, Amnesty International interviewed more than 200 mostly South Asian migrants and found that workers were threatened for complaining about poor working conditions and were underpaid or sometimes not paid at all. FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, has also received criticism; human-rights say the organization has ignored allegations of mistreatment of workers in Qatar.
Qatar is building and renovating eight new stadiums for the 2022 tournament, the first time the World Cup will be held in the Middle East.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched a new military offensive Sunday on a town near Mosul, the ISIS-held Iraqi city, the AP reports.
The groups have been battling Islamic State militants around Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, over the last week in an attempt to wrest control from the terror organization, which seized it more than two years ago. The operation involves more than 25,000 Iraqi ground forces, advised by U.S. special forces and backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Irbil Sunday to meet with Kurdish leaders and U.S. servicemembers, after visiting Baghdad on Saturday to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Carter praised the Kurdish forces, who are known as peshmerga, and acknowledged the casualties they’ve suffered in the fight for Mosul. More from the AP:
Peshmerga Brig. Gen. Halgord Hekmet, a spokesman for the Kurdish forces, told reporters that 25 of their troops have been killed since the battle to retake Mosul began and a "large number" had been wounded. Speaking through an interpreter, he said the peshmerga have had good coalition air support, but could use more military resources, especially armored vehicles.
He said that most of the fallen peshmerga were riding in regular cars and were more vulnerable. A second priority, he said, would be more devices to help detect roadside bombs.
The operation to retake Mosul from ISIS is expected to take weeks or months.
Starting the process will rein in a president who is undermining American ideals—and bring the debate about his fitness for office into Congress, where it belongs.
On January 20, 2017,Donald Trump stood on the steps of the Capitol, raised his right hand, and solemnly swore to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. He has not kept that promise.
Instead, he has mounted a concerted challenge to the separation of powers, to the rule of law, and to the civil liberties enshrined in our founding documents. He has purposefully inflamed America’s divisions. He has set himself against the American idea, the principle that all of us—of every race, gender, and creed—are created equal.
Insights into the little-studied realm of last words
Mort Felix liked to say that his name, when read as two Latin words, meant “happy death.” When he was sick with the flu, he used to jokingly remind his wife, Susan, that he wanted Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” played at his deathbed. But when his life’s end arrived at the age of 77, he lay in his study in his Berkeley, California, home, his body besieged by cancer and his consciousness cradled in morphine, uninterested in music and refusing food as he dwindled away over three weeks in 2012. “Enough,” he told Susan. “Thank you, and I love you, and enough.” When she came downstairs the next morning, she found Felix dead.
During those three weeks, Felix had talked. He was a clinical psychologist who had also spent a lifetime writing poetry, and though his end-of-life speech often didn’t make sense, it seemed to draw from his attention to language. “There’s so much so in sorrow,” he said at one point. “Let me down from here,” he said at another. “I’ve lost my modality.” To the surprise of his family members, the lifelong atheist also began hallucinating angels and complaining about the crowded room—even though no one was there.
Seldom can one find so succinct a demonstration of the president’s anti-Muslim sentiments, reliance on right-wing media, and lack of interest in accuracy or truth.
Imagine you were charged with choosing an artifact to put in a time capsule so that future Americans could understand the current government shutdown. This is an unrealistic scenario, of course. No single item can explain the current moment, and moreover, there’s no reason to believe that the shutdown is actually going to end.
But playing along with the game, your best bet would be this Donald Trump tweet from Friday morning:
Border rancher: “We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.” Washington Examiner People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.
It offers a succinct window into the president’s mind and his approach to the shutdown: an obsession with border security. A dubious anonymous source. Assertions that are unproven at best and likely bogus. A reliance on right-wing media. Anti-Muslim sentiments. Xenophobia. It is the total package; it’s just that the package is a booby trap.
Dr. Sherman Hershfield woke up one morning and was surprised to find himself behind the wheel of his car. Somewhere between his Beverly Hills apartment and his practice in the San Fernando Valley, the silver-haired physician had blacked out. Somehow he’d avoided a crash, but this wasn’t the first time. “I didn’t know what was going on,” he admitted.
Apart from his frequent blackouts, Hershfield was in fine health for a man in his 50s. He was tall and lean, ran six miles a day, and was a strict vegetarian. “I believe a physician should provide exemplary motivation to patients,” he once wrote. “I don’t smoke and have cut out all alcohol.” Hershfield specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and for decades had helped patients with brain injuries learn to walk again and rebuild their lives. Even with his experience, Hershfield didn’t know what was wrong inside his own head.
Everyone’s winging it, but that’s not a bad thing.
Harvey Karp makes soothing babies look like a cinch. In the video that accompanies his best-selling book The Happiest Baby on the Block, he holds one screaming infant after another, deftly rolls them on their side, and bam!—the crying stops. “Side position” is just one of the techniques to calm a baby in Karp’s repertoire. He also uses swaddling, shushing, swinging, and sucking. Bleary-eyed parents ooh and aah over how Karp can instantly activate a baby’s calming reflex, or “automatic shut-off switch,” using his trademark “five S’s.”
I discovered the sixth S shortly after having my daughter nine years ago. A childbirth injury had left me bedridden with chronic pelvic pain, and for two months I lived on an air mattress in my living room because I couldn’t make it upstairs to my bedroom. I couldn’t sit in a comfortable position to nurse; I couldn’t stand to change my baby’s diaper or squat to bathe her; I couldn’t bounce her to calm her down. My husband stepped up, handling most things baby-related while I healed.
Aides on Capitol Hill fear that a dramatic government failure may be the only thing to force President Trump and the Democrats back to the table.
As the longest government shutdown in American history lurches toward its fifth week, a grim but growing consensus has begun to emerge on Capitol Hill: There may be no way out of this mess until something disastrous happens.
This is, of course, not a sentiment lawmakers are eager to share on the record. But in interviews this week with congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle (whom I granted anonymity in exchange for candor), I heard the same morbid idea expressed again and again.
The basic theory—explained to me between weary sighs and defeated shrugs—goes like this: Washington is at an impasse that looks increasingly unbreakable. President Donald Trump is dug in; so is Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Democrats have public opinion on their side, but the president is focused on his conservative base. For a deal to shake loose in this environment, it may require a failure of government so dramatic, so shocking, as to galvanize public outrage and force the two parties back to the negotiating table.
The men behind the camera are ready to step into the spotlight.
Earlier this week, Chrissy Teigen posted a video on Instagram of herself posing artfully on the beach while her husband captured an endless stream of photos, including multiple angles and poses.
“Thank u for always supporting my Instagram dreams,” she wrote. “This train only moves because of you(r phone) … you are the tracks that lay the foundation … creating a direct path to hope and possibilities of likes and curated content. what u do is important. I will never take u for granted, my king.”
Like Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Meghan Markle, Beyoncé, and many influencers, in order to capture the perfect ’gram-worthy shot, Teigen relies on the help of her “Instagram husband.” When you start looking, you’ll see Instagram husbands everywhere you go. Over the Christmas holiday, a friend of mine posted a photo of an exotic beach littered with beautiful women. Standing about 10 feet away from almost all of them was a man holding a camera snapping photographs. “Instagram husbands working hard out here,” he wrote.
Corn lurks in so many surprising places, from table salt to apples to IV bags.
When Christine Robinson was first diagnosed with a corn allergy 17 years ago, she remembers thinking, “No more popcorn, no more tacos. I can do this.”
Then she tried to put salt on her tomatoes. (Table salt has dextrose, a sugar derived from corn.) She tried drinking bottled iced tea. (It contains citric acid, which often comes from mold grown in corn-derived sugar.) She tried bottled water. (Added minerals in some brands can be processed with a corn derivative.) She ultimately gave up on supermarket meat (sprayed with lactic acid from fermented corn sugars), bagged salads (citric acid, again), fish (dipped in cornstarch or syrup before freezing), grains (cross-contaminated in processing facilities), fruits like apples and citrus (waxed with corn-derived chemicals), tomatoes (ripened with ethylene gas from corn), milk (added vitamins processed with corn derivatives). And that’s not even getting to all the processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, xanthan gum, artificial flavorings, corn alcohol, maltodextrin—all of which are or contain derivatives of corn.
Readers continue to share what they would add to The Atlantic’s list of moments that define an improbable presidency—and share their views on how these moments will shape the president’s legacy.
This week marks the halfway point of Donald Trump’s presidency. “Like many Americans, we sometimes find the velocity of chaos unmanageable,” Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor in chief of The Atlantic, wrote in his introduction to a special project taking stock of Trump’s first two years as president. “So we decided to pause for a moment and analyze 50 of the most improbable, norm-bending, and destructive incidents of this presidency to date.”
We asked readers: Which moments from the Trump presidency would you add to this list?
Here’s how readers responded. (This is the second post featuring readers’ responses to “Unthinkable.” Read the first one here.)
A BuzzFeed report says President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, prompting the talk of impeachment even before the special counsel finishes his probe.
Updated at 9:16 p.m. ET on January 18.
Late Thursday night, BuzzFeed News published a report that, if true, could prove historic: President Donald Trump allegedly directed his then–personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about a real-estate deal he was pursuing in Moscow during the 2016 election. Trump immediately denied the story, but for many Democrats, including those who had previously cautioned against impeaching the president before Special Counsel Robert Mueller produces his findings in the Russia investigation, the report was cause to consider proceeding with impeachment before the Russia probe is finished.
After almost two years of near-complete silence, the special counsel’s spokesman issued a statement late Friday night calling parts of the story inaccurate. “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” said the spokesman, Peter Carr. BuzzFeed News’ editor in chief, Ben Smith, stood by the story, saying in a statement: “We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”