Live Coverage

Today's News: Nov. 11, 2016

Protests against the election of Donald Trump turn violent, Taliban storm German consulate in Afghanistan, and more from the United States and around the world.

Reuters

—Protests in Portland, Oregon, against the election of Donald Trump turned violent, with police declaring a riot and arresting 29 people. Smaller protests in others cities were mostly peaceful. More here

—A Taliban attack on the German consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif killed at least four people.

—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).

Updates

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Maine to Use ‘Ranked-Choice Voting'

Maine Governor Paul LePage  (Brian Snyder / Reuters)

Maine on Tuesday became the first state in the country to move to “ranked-choice voting,” an electoral system designed to stop a divisive candidate win in a crowded field, not unlike Donald Trump in the Republican primary.

By a 52 to 48 percent margin, voters in Maine approved ballot Question Five to create ranked-choice voting, also known as “instant-runoff voting,” for the governorship, U.S. Senate and House, and state Senate and House. Under the system, voters rank all the candidates for each office in order of preference instead of voting just for their favorite candidate.

If one candidate receives at least 50 percent of all first-place votes, that candidate wins. But if none do, then the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated from the race. The votes that went to that eliminated candidate are then reallocated according to voters’ ranked preferences. That process is repeated until one candidate wins a majority of votes.

The idea, advocates argue, is that ranked-choice voting will promote candidates that appeal to a broad group of people rather than divisive candidates with a strong base. The system also eliminates the threat of third-party candidates playing a “spoiler” role and unintentionally electing the candidate that voters dislike most.

“Question 5 levels the playing field for candidates with the best ideas and gives more choice and more voice to voters, so you never have to vote for the lesser of two evils,” Kyle Bailey, campaign manager for the Yes on 5 ballot proposal, said in a statement.

The issue was personal for Maine, which has had a number of candidates win office without receiving the support of a majority of voters. Controversial Republican Governor Paul LePage, for example, was elected in 2010 with 38 percent of the vote partly due to an independent candidate that split the opposition vote.

The Republican presidential primaries earlier this year saw a similar dynamic. Trump was opposed by a majority of Republicans but still won a number of primaries by plurality thanks to a large crowd of candidates that dispersed the vote, as The Atlantic wrote in April. FairVote, a non-profit that supports ranked-choice voting, found that Trump would have won just two of Super Tuesday’s eleven state primaries if ranked-choice voting had been used.

New York Observer, Owned by Trump’s Son-in-Law, Says Goodbye to Print

New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner (Evan Agostini / AP)

The New York Observer, the media outlet owned by Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and a launching pad for the careers of a number of today’s prominent journalists, announced Friday that it is ending its print publication, effective immediately.

In a note to readers on Observer.com, chairman and chief executive Joseph Meyer said that the decision to end print operations was related to declining print reach and the “thought leadership and premium content” of its nationally focused website. Last Wednesday’s edition, the cover of which featured a stitched-together American flag, was the final printing.

The New York Observer launched in 1987 and chronicled the oft-sordid tales of New York’s political, business, and media elite. The paper made a name for itself by the “youthful insouciance of its writers,” as David Carr wrote a decade ago, as well as its recognizable salmon-pink color.

Kushner, the son of New York real-estate titan Charles Kushner, purchased the Observer in 2006 at 25 years old. Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, has played an active role as an adviser to Trump’s campaign. He was named to the president-elect’s transition team on Friday. Meyer told The New York Times that the decision was not related to Trump’s election.

The Observer has waned in influence in recent years, overtaken by snark-filled digital publications like the late Gawker Media. In addition, the paper risked a conflict of interest while covering the biggest story of the past 18 months because of Kushner’s role with the Trump campaign.

The Observer’s decision to end print comes amid sharp drops in print advertising revenue, which has caused a spate of cutbacks among other New York media outlets. In the past week, the Wall Street Journal announced that its Greater New York section would be shuttered, and the New York Daily News announced its own staff cuts as well.

A number of well-known journalists are alumni of the Observer, including BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith and former The Atlantic Wire editor Gabriel Snyder. Several current and former Observer staffers took to Twitter to lament the end of its print era.

Why Facebook Might Think You're Dead

Regis Duvignau / Reuters

A Facebook glitch turned some profiles into memorial pages Friday, virtually killing off several of the social media site’s users—including its co-founder.

The malfunction was first reported on Twitter by users who discovered a new banner had been added to their Facebook profiles, saying, “We hope people who love [user’s name] will find comfort in the things others share to remember and celebrate [his/her] life.” The feature, which Facebook says aims to give users a way to “remember and celebrate those who've passed away,” attaches the word “Remembering” to the account holder’s profile and can be requested by an immediate family member.

Friday’s glitch, however, caught some users before their time. My colleague Vann R. Newkirk II was one of its victims.

The glitch, which a Facebook spokesperson said was caused by a bug, has since been resolved.

Trump Threatens U.S.-European Ties, EU Commission President Says

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP)

Donald Trump’s election poses a “risk” of upsetting relations between the United States and the European Union, Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission president, warned Friday, marking one of the more critical responses to Trump’s presidential victory.

“The election of Trump poses the risk of upsetting intercontinental relations in their foundation and in their structure,” Juncker told an audience of students Friday in Luxembourg, during which he said the EU would be tasked with teaching the president-elect “what Europe is and how it works.”

He added: “I think we will waste two years before Mr. Trump tours the world he does not know,” noting the time in June when Trump referred to Belgium—the country which hosts both the EU and NATO headquarters—as “a beautiful city.”

Juncker’s comments pose a stark contrast with the more muted statements of other European leaders, many of whom offered their congratulations and willingness to work with the incoming administration. On Thursday, Juncker called for a overhaul of the EU’s defense strategy, warning that Americans “won't look after Europe's security forever.”

On Wednesday, Juncker issued a statement congratulating Trump on his presidential win, noting that the U.S. and the EU “should spare no effort to ensure that the ties that bind us remain strong and durable.”

Michigan School Administrators Admonish Students for 'Build the Wall' Chants

Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters

School administrators in Michigan called for calm and understanding in an attempt to defuse outrage after a video of middle-school students chanting “build the wall” went viral on Facebook.

The video, posted Wednesday after Donald Trump’s election victory, showed a rowdy lunchtime chant at Royal Oak Middle School in Royal Oak, Michigan. The chant was recorded by a 12-year-old Mexican-American student who then sent it to her mother, The Detroit News reports, and the video reached social media from there.

“This happened today at Royal Oak Middle School in Royal Oak, Michigan. It is so sad. Latino children were crying,” wrote Dee Perez-Scott, who posted the video to Facebook. “The taunts, the ‘Build that Wall’ with such bullying power and hate from children to children. Just Horrifying!”

The video has since been viewed more than 9 million times, and was covered on CNN among other national media outlets.

School officials admonished students for the inflammatory chants. Todd Noonan, the principal, posted a video to YouTube, saying the incident caused students to “feel alienated and unwelcome” and “unsafe.”

Shawn Lewis-Lakin, Royal Oak Schools superintendent, said in a statement that teachers responded to the chanting at the time and encouraged further understanding and dialogue.

The chant was one of a number of incidents across the country that came in the wake of Trump’s election on Tuesday. The president-elect has said he will build a “big, beautiful” wall on the southern border of the United States in an attempt to keep out undocumented immigrants.

A Mysterious Object Falls From the Sky and Into a Burma Village

Yannaing Pyi Sone Aung

In the north of Burma on Thursday, the ground vibrated and villagers heard a loud bang, like an explosion, near a jade mine. It sounded like artillery fire, and locals saw smoke rising and an acrid burning smell hung in the air.

When they reached the of the site of the commotion, however, they saw a cylindrical metal tube 15 feet long and about as tall as a person, lying in a field of mud. It looked like a jet engine, and one man told the Myanmar Times he saw copper wiring on one end and found a diode. No one was injured, though the object fell from the sky and struck near two tents where jade miners sleep, then bounced 150 feet in the air, local officials told the Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper. Villagers found more metal parts, and one had even torn through the roof of a home. That chunk of metal had Chinese writing on it, which may offer a clue to where this mysterious metal cylinder originated.

The day before, China launched an experimental satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, located in Xichang, which is about the same latitude as Kachin, Burma, the state where the cylinder crashed down. A Long March 11 rocket had propelled the satellite, and though the local investigation still continues, a BBC science correspondent said that due to the shape, size, and appearance of the cylinder, it seems to be part of a Long March rocket called a “stage.” Normally this piece breaks off and falls away after launch, but it’s supposed to crash into bodies of water or uninhabited areas; not in the middle of a jade mine.

Zimbabwe Court Drops Charge in Cecil the Lion Case

Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst (Philimon Bulawayo / Reuters)

A Zimbabwean court dropped charges against the professional hunter accused of helping a Minnesota dentist kill Cecil, the beloved lion, last year, his lawyer says.

The legal saga dates to last June, when Walter Palmer, the dentist, shot and killed Cecil, a protected black-maned lion, sparking international outcry. Cecil lived at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, but had wandered outside park grounds to a nearby farm, where he was shot, skinned, and beheaded as part of of a trophy hunt.

Palmer, a hunting enthusiast from Bloomington, Minnesota, reportedly paid $54,000 to hunt the animal. He told The New York Times last year that he trusted his guides’ expertise, and did not know the lion was protected. He was not charged with a crime because he had obtained legal authority for the hunt.

The killing caused international anger, and Zimbabwe’s government accused two local guides of aiding the unlawful hunt. One of those guides, Theo Bronkhorst, was accused of illegal poaching by laying bait to lead Cecil out of the park’s confines. The charge against him was dropped, his lawyer told Reuters Friday, after a higher court agreed that the hunt wasn’t illegal because proper authority had been obtained for the hunt.

"The court granted us that prayer yesterday that the charges be quashed,” said Lovemore Muvhiringi, a lawyer for Bronkhorst. “So I cannot imagine the state coming back again charging him with the same charge."

Cecil’s death brought scrutiny on big-game trophy hunting, a major source of revenue for several African countries. Some environmentalists argue the money raised from selling hunting permits can be used for other conservation efforts, but critics say the funds rarely reach the communities in need, and the population of lions in the wild continues to decline.

‘Singles Day,’ China’s E-Commerce Extravaganza, Sets Records

A screen displays the value of goods being transacted during Alibaba Group’s Singles’ Day in Shenzhen, China, on November 11. (Bobby Yip / Reuters)

China’s unique e-commerce holiday “Singles Day” set one-day online sales records Friday, easily surpassing last year’s figure to exceed $15 billion—three times the number for Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Singles Day was originally a little-known celebration of being single, a reference to the ones in the 11-11 date. In 2008, the Alibaba Group pulled the holiday out of obscurity and turned it into a massive e-commerce sales extravaganza with deep discounts, similar to Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the U.S. The holiday has grown rapidly each year and, as The New York Times notes, has come to symbolize the rise of Chinese consumption.

Indeed, the total value of merchandise sold via Alibaba for the day reached $15 billion by 7:37 p.m., the company said in a tweet, surpassing last year’s total of $14.3 billion. For comparison, online sales totals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined reached $4.45 billion, according to data released by Adobe.

To promote the sales holiday, Alibaba held a major event in Shenzhen that had planned to feature a Katy Perry concert, but she had to cancel because of a “family emergency.” Despite her absence, star power was in abundance with Kobe Bryant, the former NBA star; Scarlett Johansson, the actress; SNH48, the Chinese band; OneRepublic, the rock band; and David and Victoria Beckham on hand to generate excitement. The concert was streamed live on websites across China.

Fun night in Shenzhen .. @kobebryant

A photo posted by David Beckham (@davidbeckham) on

Alibaba has come under increasing pressure to surpass its prior Singles Day sales totals to assuage investors worried that China’s growth is slowing. The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission is also investigating Alibaba’s accounting of its Singles Day numbers.

Grubhub’s CEO Advocates Inclusion After Trump’s Win, Invites Those Who Disagree to Quit

(Lucas Jackson / AP)

The morning after it was announced that Donald Trump had won the American presidency, Grubhub employees received an email from the food-delivery service’s co-founder reaffirming the company’s stance against the president-elect’s discriminatory rhetoric—and invited those who disagreed to resign.

In a company-wide email, Matt Maloney, the Grubhub CEO, assured employees that “nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics” would have no place at Grubhub, adding that had Trump worked there, “many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination.”

Here’s more from his email (which you can read in full here):

As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States. If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.

Maloney issued a statement Thursday clarifying his email, which he said was intended to advocate for tolerance and inclusion, reaffirming that Grubhub does not discriminate on the basis of political beliefs.

Though some states have adopted laws that explicitly protect employees from discrimination on the basis of political affiliation, Illinois—where the Chicago-based Grubhub is located—is not one of them. Grubhub classifies itself as an equal-opportunity employer that evaluates candidates “without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, and other legally protected characteristics.”

The Taliban Strikes the German Consulate in Afghanistan

Reuters

Taliban militants rammed the wall of the German consulate in northern Afghanistan with a giant truck bomb late Thursday night, then attacked security forces there, killing at least four people and injuring more than 100.

The explosion to the consulate’s wall hit just before midnight local time and shattered windows in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif as far away as three miles. No consular staff were among the victims, and many of the injured were hurt in the ensuing firefight and by flying glass from the bomb blast. German troops shot two men on a motorcycle who failed to stop when asked.

Mazar-e-Sharif is one of the most populous Afghan cities in the north, and it was fairly peaceful until recently. It was never a Taliban stronghold, though the group is active in the surrounding Balkh province. But last month, militants stormed the city and briefly captured it. The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, sent an email to media saying the attack was in retaliation for a NATO air strike near a village in Kunduz last week that killed more than 30 people, some of them children. Militants and suicide bombers had been sent “with a mission to destroy the German consulate general and kill whoever they found there,” Mujahid told Reuters.

Germany, a NATO member, has about 1,000 troops stationed near the city, and heads the mission against the Taliban in the region. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after this latest attack the country will review its role in the mission.  

Anti-Trump Protests in Portland, Oregon, Turn Violent


Demonstrators break a shop window during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump in Portland, Oregon, on November 11. (William Gagan / Reuters)

Protests in Portland, Oregon, against the election of Donald Trump turned violent Thursday night, as demonstrators broke windows and damaged cars. Police declared a riot and arrested 26 people.

Thousands gathered for the second night of protests in Portland’s Pearl district in a rally that lasted into early Friday. There were similar, but smaller protests against Trump’s election in other U.S. cities. In Minneapolis, they blocked an interstate highway; in Philadelphia they held placards that read “Not Our President”; and in San Francisco, some high-school students protested with Mexican flags.

Trump, on Twitter, initially said the demonstrations were incited by the media, but by Friday morning he’d pivoted, praising the peaceful rallies: