—Hate crimes against Muslims in the United States rose by 67 percent in 2015, according to an FBI crime report released Monday.
—Gwen Ifill, the American journalist who worked for PBS since 1999, died Monday of cancer. She was 61.
—President Obama kicks off his final major foreign-policy trip tonight, leaving Washington for Athens. He will visit Berlin and Lima later this week, where he’s expected to try to reassure leaders surprised by the unexpected election of Donald Trump.
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
A federal judge has ordered Brendan Dassey, one of the two imprisoned Wisconsin men featured in the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer,” be released from prison.
The judge, William E. Duffin, previously overturned Dassey’s conviction in the 2005 murder and sexual assault of a photographer. Duffin argued Dassey “was mentally unfit, that he had been coerced into a confession he later recanted and that his court-appointed lawyer had been content to cut a deal,” The New York Timesreports.
Dassey’s uncle, Steven Avery, is also serving a life sentence for murder and sexual assault.
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Shimel has appealed the judge’s ruling. He is also temporarily blocking Dassey’s release from prison.
Dassey’s lawyers said Monday they hoped to get Dassey home by Thanksgiving, adding:
Dassey's family is concentrated in northeastern Wisconsin. There is no indication that he has the inclination much less the means to flee or will otherwise fail to appear as may be legally required.
Dassey has been in prison since he was convicted in 2007.
U.S. Forces Accused of Possible War Crimes in Afghanistan
There is “reasonable basis to believe” that U.S. forces and the CIA may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan, the International Criminal Court said Monday.
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC chief prosecutor, signaled in an annual report that the court would open investigations into “war crimes of torture and related ill-treatment” by U.S. forces deployed in Afghanistan in CIA-operated detention facilities between 2003 and 2004. The probe will include investigating the possible use of “torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape.”
Here’s more from the report:
These alleged crimes were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals. Rather, they appear to have been committed as part of approved interrogation techniques in an attempt to extract ‘actionable intelligence’ from detainees. According to information available, the resort to such interrogation techniques was ultimately put to an end by the authorities concerned, hence the limited time-period during which the crimes allegedly occurred.
Though the final decision to launch the investigation has not been announced, Bensouda said she would decide whether to ask the court’s judges for permission “imminently.” If the investigation goes forward, it would mark the first time U.S. forces have been exposed to an ICC probe.
Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes in the U.S. Rose by 67 Percent in 2015
Hate crimes against Muslims in the United States rose by 67 percent in 2015, according to an FBI crime report released Monday.
The bureau’s Uniform Crime Report documented a total of 5,850 hate-crime incidents reported in 2015 overall—a 6 percent increase from the 5,479 incidents reported the previous year. Of these incidents, 257 of them were classified as anti-Muslim hate crimes, a significant increase from the 154 incidents reported in 2014. This latest report marks one of the largest increases in anti-Muslim hate crimes in more than a decade, second only to the 481 anti-Muslim hate crimes reported in 2001, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Overall, religion-based incidents made up 21 percent of the hate crimes documented, with more than 50 percent targeting Jews and 22 percent targeting Muslims. Anti-Semitic hate crimes, which remain the largest religious-based hate crimes reported, rose by 9 percent.
Other hate crimes reported were based on sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity.
The FBI’s latest report comes amid an increase in reported hate crimes following last week’s presidential election, including racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim incidents.
Gwen Ifill, the American journalist who worked for PBS since 1999, died Monday of cancer. She was 61.
“I am very sad to tell you that our dear friend and beloved colleague Gwen Ifill passed away today in hospice care in Washington,” Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the CEO of WETA, Washington D.C.’s public TV and radio stations, wrote in an email to staff on Monday, Politico reports. “I spent an hour with her this morning and she was resting comfortably, surrounded by loving family and friends.”
Ifill went on leave from PBS from early April to mid-May this year to address ongoing health issues, which she did not make public. She took a leave again last week before Election Day.
Ifill served as a co-anchor on PBS “NewsHour” and as moderator of “Washington Week,” the longest-running primetime news program on television. Before joining PBS, Ifill was the chief congressional and political corresponded for NBC News, a White House correspondent for The New York Times, and reporter for The Washington Post.
Ifill and her “NewsHour” co-host Judy Woodruff became the first all-female team to anchor the show in 2013. Ifill acknowledged the significance of her role in particular, tellingThe New York Times:
“When I was a little girl watching programs like this — because that’s the kind of nerdy family we were — I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color,” she said.
“I’m very keen about the fact that a little girl now, watching the news, when they see me and Judy sitting side by side, it will occur to them that that’s perfectly normal — that it won’t seem like any big breakthrough at all,” she added.
Ifill covered seven presidential campaigns during her long career in Washington. She moderated the 2004 vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards, the 2008 vice-presidential debate between John Biden and Sarah Palin, and the final Democratic primary debate last year.
President Obama praised Ifill’s work at the start of a press conference Monday afternoon, and described the veteran journalist as “an especially powerful role model for young women and girls.”
“I always appreciated Gwen's reporting, even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews,” Obama said. “Whether she reported from a convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator’s table or at the anchor’s deck, she not only informed today’s citizens but she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists.”
Ifill was named in August as the recipient of the 2016 John Chancellor Award for excellence in journalism and was scheduled to receive the award this week in New York.
Spanish archeologists announced their discovery Sunday, saying they believed the mummy is that of a nobleman named Amenrenef, a servant to the royal household of King Thutmose II. The burial site is located near a temple for the king on the west bank of the Nile, 435 miles south of Cairo near Luxor, a city of about 500,000 people and the site of many ancient tombs.
The mummy was adorned with religious symbols and gods, like Isis, Nephtys, and the sons of Horus, and he sarcophagus was brightly colored. The practice of mummification dates back to 4500 BC, although this tomb is believed to be more recent; archaeologists put it somewhere between 1075 BC and 664 BC.
Hundreds of transgender activists crowned the winner of a transgender beauty pageant in Indonesia over the weekend in an event that was kept almost entirely secret, the Associated Press reports.
Qienabh Tappii, a 28-year-old representing the Indonesian capital, defeated more than 30 other contestants Friday for the title of Miss Waria, the Indonesian word for transgender. Tappii, who will represent Indonesia at the Miss International Queen pageant in Thailand next year, told the AP, “I want waria to be accepted, appreciated, and understood in our society, and to be equal with other Indonesians. I will work really hard to achieve it.”
The pageant’s organizers said they kept the event in Jakarta secret because they feared the country’s Islamic hardliners would try to shut it down. Organizers told only a few journalists about when and where the event would be held.
“If the public knew in advance that there will be such an event, those who use religion as their mask could attack us,” Nancy Iskandar, one of the pageant’s organizers, said. “That's why we kept it secret until the last minute.”
Indonesia’s religious culture is considered more moderate compared to other Muslim-majority countries. But the nation has increasingly drawn criticism from human-rights organizations for its treatment of its LGBT community. This year, some Indonesian lawmakers have called for measures banning LGBT students from university campuses and instituting “healing programs” to cure sexual orientation.
The United States and Australia reached a deal Sunday to resettle asylum seekers held in detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru that were stopped while trying to reach Australia by boat.
Under a one-time deal, the U.S. has agreed to accept individuals who have already received refugee status from the United Nations. Officials have not said how many refugees will be transported, or exactly when and where. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the deal will prioritize “women, children, and families.” He said the transfer would likely begin after President-elect Donald Trump took office in January.
The detention camps hold about 1,200 men, women, and children who are mostly from Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and Malaysia.
The deal, which has been in the works for months, comes after Papua New Guinea’s supreme court ruled this spring that it was unconstitutional for the island to host Australia’s migrants.
The facilities have attracted controversy since they opened about 15 years ago, in part because many migrants wait about three years for the government to process their applications while living in mostly poor conditions. In the early 2000s, Australia began a policy of detaining migrants in offshore processing centers, essentially renting out some of its migration processing duties to Nauru and Papua New Guinea. The centers are favored among Australian conservatives, but were closed briefly in 2008 after the progressive Labor Party took power.
Iraqi soldiers fighting to reclaim Mosul from the Islamic State have nearly surrounded the city and will begin a collective push toward downtown in the coming days. The operation is nearing the end of its fourth week, and over the weekend the fighting mostly slowed to allow forces to regroup and to minimize civilian deaths.
So far only the elite Iraqi special forces entering from the east have breached ISIS’s front lines in Mosul, the country’s second-largest city and a key stronghold for ISIS in Iraq. But Kurdish peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the north, as well as the Shia Popular Mobilization Force in the southwest, have advanced slowly toward the city center as they recapture towns along the outskirts. On Sunday, to the north of Mosul, Iraqi forces nearly reached the Habda neighborhood. Their arrival would mark the first time security forces reached the city limits from this direction.
“The enemy is collapsing and losing control, and we are now taking only two days to seize a neighborhood where we planned to be fighting for four days,” Maan al Saadi, a commander with Iraqi special forces, told The Wall Street Journal.
More than 1 million people live in Mosul and about 54,000 people have been displaced as fighting intensified. ISIS has moved residents to the city’s center and used them as human shields against bombing attacks. The Telegraphreported Monday that injured children have overwhelmed hospitals in the area, seeking treatment for gunshots, burns, and shrapnel from bombs, which militants have placed in roadways to slow the advance of Iraqi forces.
About 1,000 Tourists Stranded After New Zealand Earthquake
Tsunami warnings have been canceled in New Zealand a day after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country, triggering dangerous waves and dozens of aftershocks that were felt for hours.
Two people were killed in the quake, Radio New Zealand reported Monday night local time. One person died in a house in Mount Lyford, a ski resort located north of Christchurch, and another died in a collapsed house in Kaikoura, a coastal town to the country’s east.
The quake caused major landslides in Kaikoura, blocking roads and stranding about 1,000 tourists and hundreds of residents. New Zealand officials say they will send in helicopters, which could each pick up about 18 people at a time, the AP reports. A ship from Auckland is also on its way. But the rescue operation could take several days.
"From all directions, Kaikoura has essentially been isolated," Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the head of New Zealand's Joint Forces, told the AP.
Prime Minister John Key estimated the damage of the quake to be in the billions of dollars, according to the AP. “It’s just utter devastation,” said Key, who flew over Kaikoura by helicopter to survey the landslides.
Small aftershocks were still being recorded as recently as Tuesday morning, according to GeoNet, which monitors seismic activity in the country.
The city of Christchurch is still recovering from a 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed scores of buildings.
The special counsel’s most interesting findings about Trump and Russia might be in the counterintelligence portion of his report.
On Sunday afternoon, Attorney General Bill Barr presented a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions that contained a few sentences from Mueller's final report, one of which directly addressed the question of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” In a footnote, Barr explained that Mueller had defined “coordination” as an “agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump campaign and the Russian government on election interference.”
Mueller’s full report has not been made available to the public yet, so it’s not clear whether it sets forth everything the special counsel’s office learned over the course of its nearly two-year investigation—including findings about conduct that was perhaps objectionable but not criminal—or whether it is more tailored and explains only Mueller’s prosecution and declination decisions. But national security and intelligence experts tell me that Mueller’s decision not to charge Trump or his campaign team with a conspiracy is far from dispositive, and that the underlying evidence the special counsel amassed over two years could prove as useful as a conspiracy charge to understanding the full scope of Russia’s election interference in 2016.
A former Jehovah's Witness is using stolen documents to expose allegations that the religion has kept hidden for decades.
Updated at 3:34 p.m. ET on March 25, 2019.
In March 1997, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Jehovah’s Witnesses, sent a letter to each of its 10,883 U.S. congregations, and to many more congregations worldwide. The organization was concerned about the legal risk posed by possible child molesters within its ranks. The letter laid out instructions on how to deal with a known predator: Write a detailed report answering 12 questions—Was this a onetime occurrence, or did the accused have a history of child molestation? How is the accused viewed within the community? Does anyone else know about the abuse?—and mail it to Watchtower’s headquarters in a special blue envelope. Keep a copy of the report in your congregation’s confidential file, the instructions continued, and do not share it with anyone.
International correspondents have the particularly challenging task of reporting on Brexit’s significance for readers who don’t follow its every twist and turn.
LONDON—“There is a complete meltdown going on here,” Stephen Castle, a U.K. correspondent for The New York Times and a veteran journalist who has been based in Brussels and London for more than a quarter century, told me during another hectic week in Brexit Britain. “It’s a very slow-motion and incremental one, and that makes it harder to bring to light.”
For even the most seasoned analysts and reporters, Brexit has proved to be a political labyrinth. It’s a tumultuous moment for Britain—perhaps the most tumultuous to befall the country since World War II. Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is rife with extreme political and economic consequences. And yet, nearly three years of complications, crunch weeks, and crises later, Brexit remains seemingly impossible to understand. For the journalists tasked with covering this story, decoding and untangling Brexit has been particularly challenging. Keeping it comprehensible for audiences, both within the United Kingdom and around the world, has proved even harder.
In hindsight, there were plenty of indications over the past decade that American politics were headed toward the partisan sniping and low-stakes media obsessions that crowd the news cycle today. Take Arugulagate. In 2007, Barack Obama was in Iowa, speaking as a presidential hopeful to a group of farmers who were worried about the stagnation of their crop prices while America’s grocery bills continued to rise.
In his speech, Obama referred to the inflated cost of arugula at Whole Foods, which was a small gaffe: Iowa didn’t have a Whole Foods, and the leafy vegetable wasn’t then familiar enough to be name-checked in a broad point about American grocery costs. But political media turned arugula into its own news cycle, with conservatives charging Obama with elitism. Around the same time, lattes were also being slandered. It was a big moment for food as proof of one’s true ability to govern.
The surprisingly short life of new electronic devices
Updated on March 22 at 9:06 p.m. ET.
Two years ago, Desmond Hughes heard so many of his favorite podcasters extolling AirPods, Apple’s tiny, futuristic $170 wireless headphones, that he decided they were worth the splurge. He quickly became a convert.
Hughes is still listening to podcasters talk about their AirPods, but now they’re complaining. The battery can no longer hold a charge, they say, rendering them functionally useless. Apple bloggers agree: “AirPods are starting to show their age for early adopters,” Zac Hall, an editor at 9to5Mac, wrote in a post in January, detailing how he frequently hears a low-battery warning in his AirPods now. Earlier this month, Apple Insider tested a pair of AirPods purchased in 2016 against a pair from 2018, and found that the older pair died after two hours and 16 minutes. “That’s less than half the stated battery life for a new pair,” the writer William Gallagher concluded.
Our birth-control methods failed, and we can’t afford a second child financially or career-wise.
My wife and I recently discovered she's about six weeks pregnant. This is devastating news for both of us. We have a 17-month-old daughter and we planned on having only one child. The birth control we had been using failed. I tried to have a vasectomy nine months ago and my wife objected at the doctor's office without citing reasons. She said she would get an IUD instead, but she was unable to get the IUD, because doctors had to remove a fibroid first. She learned about the pregnancy at the doctor's office during a consult on removing the fibroid.
Since hearing the news, I have been honest with her about my feelings. I reminded her that we simply cannot afford a second child and we can kiss our joint career aspirations goodbye if we have another baby. She agrees with me. More important, I said our marriage will be over in the sense that we will just be co-parents rather than lovers because I will resent her, and the baby will always be a reminder of my career sacrifice and our indebtedness.
Even without a physical state, the Islamic State can still fund its main product: political violence.
BEIRUT—If you’re looking to transfer money here, there’s a chance you will be directed to Abu Shawkat. He works out of a small office in a working-class suburb of the Lebanese capital, but won’t give you its exact location. Instead, he’ll direct you to a nearby alleyway, and whether he shows up depends on whether he likes the look of you.
Abu Shawkat—not his real name—is part of the hawala system, which is often used to transfer cash between places where the banking system has broken down or is too expensive for some to access. If he agrees to do business, you’ll set a password and he will take your cash, then provide you with the contact information of a hawala broker in the city where your money is headed. Anyone who offers that specific password to that particular broker will get the funds. Thus, cash can travel across borders without any inquiry into who is sending or receiving it, or its purpose.
Half of the electorate is likely to reject Attorney General William Barr’s decision on obstruction.
The justice system cannot please everyone, but it at least aims to provide some sort of closure. That’s why one of the least satisfying outcomes of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the election, as summarized by Attorney General William Barr, is its approach to the question of whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.
Though this message was delivered in a very different way, it is reminiscent not of Watergate or any of the other past presidential standards that have become common analogues, but instead of former FBI Director James Comey’s 2016 recommendation that Hillary Clinton not be charged with a crime in connection with her use of a personal email server while secretary of state. In both cases, Justice Department officials found evidence both for and against a crime. In both cases, they determined that prosecuting a case wasn’t tenable. And in both cases, the outcome is likely to enrage nearly half of the American electorate, splitting the country rather than providing a reconciliation.
Newsmakers, pundits, and hustlers banked their future on the investigation taking down the president. The jig is up.
In a letter to Congress on Sunday, Attorney General William Barr declared that while Robert Mueller’s report found evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and did not exonerate President Donald Trump, it also did “not conclude that the president committed a crime.” And so the special counsel’s months-long investigation into Trump’s dealings with Russia ended with an inconclusive conclusion: No smoking gun would result in Trump’s hasty removal from office.
Not just Democratic lawmakers had been banking on a final blow to the Trump administration. Pundits, commentators, and opportunistic entrepreneurs had all held up Mueller as a hero for their cause—and, in the process, constructed a cottage industry of Mueller-pegged media content and accessories.
It’s impossible to understand without taking a long view.
I have four kids. I don’t strike people as the type to have so many, nor does my wife. We’re professors. Neither of us is conventionally religious. We spent our 20s in Brooklyn as vegetable-blending free spirits. I drive a Prius on principle, even though I’m 6 foot 8 and my head hits the ceiling.
It’s hard to say how we ended up with such a large family. When people ask, I say (1) my wife likes babies, (2) I tend to assume I won’t regret having another child, and (3) we love the kids we have. But there’s an element of mystery, even to me. Any answer feels incomplete. Maybe that’s because the fuller explanation is buried too deep, in layers of instinct and social expectation. I think it’s hard for people to say exactly why they have kids or not—and if they do, how many.