—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.
Misperceptions and rage are blinding Republicans—and their voter-suppression measures may backfire.
It’s not only Georgia.
In every state where Republicans control a chamber of the legislature, bills to restrict voting are advancing fast. Arizona and Texas Republicans have acted especially aggressively to choke off unwanted voters in time for 2022.
Arizona Republicans propose to reduce the number of days for early voting. They want to purge voter rolls of people who missed the previous election. They want to cut off mail-in balloting five days before Election Day. And they want to require that affidavits of identity accompany any ballot that is mailed in.
Texas Republicans are pushing a bill to limit early voting, prohibit drive-through voting, limit the number of ballot drop-off locations, and restrict local officials’ ability to publicize voting by mail.
The CDC has finally said what scientists have been screaming for months: The coronavirus is overwhelmingly spread through the air, not via surfaces.
Last week, the CDC acknowledged what many of us have been saying for almost nine months about cleaning surfaces to prevent transmission by touch of the coronavirus: It’s pure hygiene theater.
“Based on available epidemiological data and studies of environmental transmission factors,” the CDC concluded, “surface transmission is not the main route by which SARS-CoV-2 spreads, and the risk is considered to be low.” In other words: You can put away the bleach, cancel your recurring Amazon subscription for disinfectant wipes, and stop punishing every square inch of classroom floor, restaurant table, and train seat with high-tech antimicrobial blasts. COVID-19 is airborne: It spreads through tiny aerosolized droplets that linger in the air in unventilated spaces. Touching stuff just doesn’t carry much risk, and more people should say so, very loudly.
A classic meme about being radicalized is now so absurd that it means almost nothing at all.
Have you fallen for a famous great ape, the most lovable star of something called the “MonsterVerse”? You’re Kong-pilled. Have you been convinced by a local restaurateur that an imported Italian oil is actually worth the expense? You’re truffle-pilled. Have you inadvertently become entranced by Marxist perspectives on mass media and popular culture? You’re Horkheimer and Adorno–pilled.
All over the internet, people are claiming to be “pilled” by anything you can imagine. Like lots of memes, this one comes from pop culture. In the 1999 movie The Matrix, the protagonist is presented with a choice: Take a red pill or a blue pill. The red pill will wake you up to all the horrors of reality, and the blue pill will let you stay clueless and happy in a simulated dreamworld. But unlike lots of memes, this one didn’t start as a neutral joke about a famous movie. About eight years ago, boys who were spending too much time on the internet—usually on 4chan or Reddit—began to use taking the red pill as code for “choosing to realize that feminism is destroying society and my life.” The phrase was adopted by other far-right political subcultures and slowly came to mean that a person had been radicalized in some way.
As stores disappear, shopping in your own wardrobe becomes the ultimate luxury.
This article was published online on April 8, 2021.
When I was a kid, my mother loved to take me out for some light trespassing. This was the 1990s, during which the Atlanta metropolitan area’s population grew nearly 40 percent, and housing construction boomed to match. McMansions were sprouting up on seemingly every tract of available land in my family’s once-modest suburb, and my mom—I say this affectionately—is the nosiest person alive. Often, in the middle of running errands, she’d whip her station wagon into some new development, surveil the scene until she found a house that looked finished enough, and see if the front door was unlocked. Or maybe the side door.
Canada has universal health care and millions of doses on order. So why are so few of its citizens vaccinated?
By the time you read this, at least a quarter of Americans will have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a stunning turnaround for a country where a bungled early response, inadequate financial support to keep people home, and a mishmash of mask requirements have led to more than 30 million infections and more than 554,000 deaths.
Just north of the border, Canadians—usually so smug about our universal health care—are looking on with jealousy. “Here, vaccine envy has turned into a national psychosis, another reason to beat ourselves up for some fatal national flaw,” wrote Alan Freeman, a journalist turned public servant and academic on iPolitics, a Canadian news website. In The Globe and Mail, the columnist Ian Brown retells an encounter with a vaccinated person: “I immediately wanted revenge. Nothing serious: steal his car, maybe, or his wallet.”
The recent wave of anti-trans legislation follows a decades-long pattern of the GOP targeting those they think lack the numbers or votes to properly fight back.
Ken Mehlman wanted to apologize. Speaking with The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder in 2010, the former Republican National Committee chair came out as gay, and acknowledged that, despite being a party leader, he had not worked against the GOP’s strategy of setting up anti-marriage-equality referendums in key states prior to the 2004 election.
“Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus,” Ambinder wrote. He added that Mehlman “often wondered why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, which he called ‘the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now.’”
The interview represented a shift in conservative politics, as the Republican Party moved from demonizing one group of Americans to another. The time for blaming the nation’s problems on gay people was over; now was the time to come together as a country and blame our problems on Muslims. For the past 30 years, the GOP has pursued a consistent strategy: Find a misunderstood or marginalized group, convince voters that the members of that group pose an existential threat to society, and then ride to victory on the promise of using state power to crush them.
In this crowded field of wrongness, one voice stands out. The voice of Alex Berenson: the former New York Times reporter, Yale-educated novelist, avid tweeter, online essayist, and all-around pandemic gadfly. Berenson has been serving up COVID-19 hot takes for the past year, blithely predicting that the United States would not reach 500,000 deaths (we’ve surpassed 550,000) and arguing that cloth and surgical masks can’t protect against the coronavirus (yes, theycan).
Image above: Glacier National Park, in Montana, as seen from the Blackfeet Reservation, near Duck Lake.
This article was published online on April 12, 2021.
In 1851, members of a California state militia called the Mariposa Battalion became the first white men to lay eyes on Yosemite Valley. The group was largely made up of miners. They had been scouring the western slopes of the Sierra when they happened upon the granite valley that Native peoples had long referred to as “the place of a gaping mouth.” Lafayette Bunnell, a physician attached to the militia, found himself awestruck. “None but those who have visited this most wonderful valley, can even imagine the feelings with which I looked upon the view,” he later wrote. “A peculiar exalted sensation seemed to fill my whole being, and I found my eyes in tears.” Many of those who have followed in Bunnell’s footsteps over the past 170 years, walking alongside the Merced River or gazing upon the god-rock of El Capitan, have been similarly struck by the sense that they were in the presence of the divine.
My son does an average of five or six hours of homework every night. Is this normal?
Editor’s Note: Every Tuesday, Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer take questions from readers about their kids’ education. Have one? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Abby and Brian,
My son, who is in ninth grade, is a really good student, but I’m worried he’s working far too much. He does an average of five or six hours of homework every weeknight, and that’s on top of spending most of the weekend writing essays or studying for tests. His school says that each of his five main classes (English, history, math, language, and science) can assign no more than 30 minutes a night and that electives can assign no more than one hour a week. That should look like something around three hours a night, which is a lot but at least more manageable.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated people are getting more lax with behavior at a time when vigilance really matters.
A few weeks ago, my partially vaccinated partner and my wholly unvaccinated self got an invitation to a group dinner, held unmasked and indoors. There’d be Thai food for 10, we were promised, and two über-immunized hosts, more than two weeks out from their last Moderna doses. And what about everyone else? I asked. Would they be fully vaccinated, too?
Well, came the response. Not really. Some would be, some wouldn’t. But it had been so long—weren’t we close enough?
The answer was of course no, and my partner and I ended up staying home. But as the weeks wear on, I’m having more and more of these conversations with people who are struggling to navigate the new social calculus of a partly vaccinated world. Even as infection rates tick up again, people are bending, stretching, and breaking the rules governing how they should act around others: A recent Gallup poll showed that Americans’ vigilance about distancing and avoiding public places seems to be slackening, regardless of their immunization status. Slowly but surely, we’re losing our grip.