—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.
The former president attempted to violently overthrow the government of the United States, and his party ensured that he would face no consequences for doing so.
During former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment, even when Republicans insisted that the assault on the Capitol was an unfortunate consequence of heated rhetoric, most did not attempt to defend Trump’s conduct on the merits. Instead, they relied on the absurd technicality that the president was no longer in office, and therefore could not be convicted.
That was the rationale of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who accused Trump of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and afterward voted to acquit. McConnell then suggested that Trump could be criminally prosecuted, comfortable in the suspicion that would never happen.
Other Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, insisted that seeking accountability for an attempted coup would be “incredibly divisive,” and was therefore not worth doing. “The notion that we’re going to spend a week or two weeks on a trial on somebody who’s not even in office—it sounds to me like a waste of time,” Rubio told Politico in 2021.
The committee is laying out the facts in a way optimally designed to cultivate trust.
At the Global Fact international fact-checkers’ conference I attended in Oslo earlier this month, there were workshops on digital investigation, lectures on media literacy, even sessions devoted to hateful social media of the kind that sometimes gets directed at people who check facts for a living—and there are many such people. Fact-checking is now a sophisticated, high-tech profession, with members in places all over the world—Colombia, Canada, South Africa, Taiwan. What they can do with tiny scraps of evidence is almost unsettling. Fact-checking websites and fact-checking columnists can tell you how to identify a video that has been manipulated, how to spot a fake social-media account, how to geolocate an atrocity just by examining a single photograph that has appeared online.
The evidence for a possible criminal case against the former president is piling up.
From the moment the attack on the Capitol began, on January 6, 2021, Donald Trump’s moral culpability was clear. That mob would never have assembled on the National Mall but for Trump’s decision to relentlessly lie about the results of the 2020 election.
His legal culpability, however, was more ambiguous. We did not possess any evidence that he directly coordinated with the rioters prior to the invasion of the Capitol, and although his speech to the mob on January 6 itself admonished his followers to “fight like hell” and warned them that “you will never take back our country with weakness,” it also contained an explicit statement that they should march to the Capitol to “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard.
Yesterday Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told the House’s January 6 committee that Donald Trump knew rioters were armed, and urged them to go to the Capitol anyway. But the most surprising element of her testimony was her claim that Trump lunged for the steering wheel of his armored limousine and tried to force his Secret Service detail to take him to the Capitol. “I’m the f-ing president,” she said he told his chief bodyguard. “Take me up to the Capitol now.” The agent refused. If true, I believe this would be the first known example of Trump’s physically exerting himself when not on a golf course. It would also be the first instance of his volunteering to join a melee, rather than just letting one erupt in his name at a safe distance.
An experimental therapy helped patients with a rare disease feel better. It also led to an accidental makeover.
In October 2019, Jordan Janz became the first person in the world to receive an experimental therapy for cystinosis, a rare genetic disease. The treatment was physically grueling. Doctors extracted blood stem cells from Janz’s bone marrow and genetically modified them in a lab. Meanwhile, he underwent chemotherapy to clear out the remaining faulty cells in his bone marrow before he got the newly modified ones. The chemo gave Janz sores in his mouth so painful that he couldn’t eat. He lost his head full of pale-blond hair.
But Janz, then a 20-year-old from Alberta, Canada, had signed up for this because he knew that cystinosis was slowly killing him. The mutated gene behind this disease was causing toxic crystals of a molecule called cystine to build up everywhere in his body. He threw up constantly as a kid. Visible crystals accumulated in his eyes. And his kidneys were now failing. Cystinosis patients live, on average, to 28.5 years old.
Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was damning. If anyone was surprised, they shouldn’t have been.
The portrait painted yesterday at the January 6 hearing by Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, wasn’t simply of a criminal president, but of a seditious madman.
Even Republican members of Congress who have long supported Donald Trump told reporters, anonymously, that Hutchinson’s testimony was “worse than they imagined.” They were “stunned” and “left speechless.”
If they were, they shouldn’t have been.
According to Hutchinson, the president of the United States knew that his supporters attending the January 6 rally near the White House were armed—and he still wanted security removed from the area and the crowd to march to the Capitol. “I overheard the president say something to the effect of ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags [magnetometers] away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here,’” Hutchinson said. Not long after that, Trump told the crowd that stormed the Capitol, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
On this day, ten years ago, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck beneath the Indian Ocean near Indonesia, generating a massive tsunami that claimed more than 230,000 lives in fourteen different countries, one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded.
On this day, ten years ago, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck beneath the Indian Ocean near Indonesia, generating a massive tsunami that claimed more than 230,000 lives in fourteen different countries, one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded. Today, many of the communities have recovered, though painful memories and some ruined structures remain in place. Across Asia today, memorials were held in remembrance of the thousands of victims. Amid the commemorations, continued warnings from earthquake experts that early-warning systems need even more development and funding in the region. Gathered here are images of the 2004 event, a series of then-and-now comparison images, and photos from today's memorials.
The past two and a half years have been a global crash course in infection prevention. They’ve also been a crash course in basic math: Since the arrival of this coronavirus, people have been asked to count the meters and feet that separate one nose from the next; they’ve tabulated the days that distance them from their most recent vaccine dose, calculated the minutes they can spend unmasked, and added up the hours that have passed since their last negative test.
What unites many of these numbers is the tendency, especially in the United States, to pick thresholds and view them as binaries: above this, mask; below this, don’t; after this, exposed, before this, safe. But some of the COVID numbers that have stuck most stubbornly in our brains these past 20-odd months are now disastrously out of date. The virus has changed; we, its hosts, have as well. So, too, then, must the playbook that governs our pandemic strategies. With black-and-white, yes-or-no thinking, “we do ourselves a disservice,” Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist at George Mason University, told me. Binary communication “has been one of the biggest failures of how we’ve managed the pandemic,” Mónica Feliú-Mójer, of the nonprofit Ciencia Puerto Rico, told me.
The great “convergence” of the mid-20th century may have been an anomaly.
It may be time to stop talking about “red” and “blue” America. That’s the provocative conclusion of Michael Podhorzer, a longtime political strategist for labor unions and the chair of the Analyst Institute, a collaborative of progressive groups that studies elections. In a private newsletter that he writes for a small group of activists, Podhorzer recently laid out a detailed case for thinking of the two blocs as fundamentally different nations uneasily sharing the same geographic space.
“When we think about the United States, we make the essential error of imagining it as a single nation, a marbled mix of Red and Blue people,” Podhorzer writes. “But in truth, we have never been one nation. We are more like a federated republic of two nations: Blue Nation and Red Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.”