—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.
Three Atlantic writers discuss the HBO epic’s divisive series finale, which tries to break the wheel one last time.
Every week for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, three Atlantic staffers have been discussing new episodes of the HBO drama. Because no screeners were made available to critics in advance this year, we’ll be posting our thoughts on the series finale in installments.
Credentialed authorities are comically bad at predicting the future. But reliable forecasting is possible.
The bet was on, and it was over the fate of humanity. On one side was the Stanford biologist Paul R. Ehrlich. In his 1968 best seller, The Population Bomb, Ehrlich insisted that it was too late to prevent a doomsday apocalypse resulting from overpopulation. Resource shortages would cause hundreds of millions of starvation deaths within a decade. It was cold, hard math: The human population was growing exponentially; the food supply was not. Ehrlich was an accomplished butterfly specialist. He knew that nature did not regulate animal populations delicately. Populations exploded, blowing past the available resources, and then crashed.
In his book, Ehrlich played out hypothetical scenarios that represented “the kinds of disasters that will occur.” In the worst-case scenario, famine rages across the planet. Russia, China, and the United States are dragged into nuclear war, and the resulting environmental degradation soon extinguishes the human race. In the “cheerful” scenario, population controls begin. Famine spreads, and countries teeter, but the major death wave ends in the mid-1980s. Only half a billion or so people die of starvation. “I challenge you to create one more optimistic,” Ehrlich wrote, adding that he would not count scenarios involving benevolent aliens bearing care packages.
To save the Church, Catholics must detach themselves from the clerical hierarchy—and take the faith back into their own hands.
To feel relief at my mother’s being dead was once unthinkable, but then the news came from Ireland. It would have crushed her. An immigrant’s daughter, my mother lived with an eye cast back to the old country, the land against which she measured every virtue. Ireland was heaven to her, and the Catholic Church was heaven’s choir. Then came the Ryan Report.
Not long before The Boston Globe began publishing its series on predator priests, in 2002—the “Spotlight” series that became a movie of the same name—the government of Ireland established a commission, ultimately chaired by Judge Sean Ryan, to investigate accounts and rumors of child abuse in Ireland’s residential institutions for children, nearly all of which were run by the Catholic Church.
It was a blockbuster discovery at the time. The team found that a less active version of the gene was more common among 454 people who had mood disorders than in 570 who did not. In theory, anyone who had this particular gene variant could be at higher risk for depression, and that finding, they said, might help in diagnosing such disorders, assessing suicidal behavior, or even predicting a person’s response to antidepressants.
Back then, tools for sequencing DNA weren’t as cheap or powerful as they are today. When researchers wanted to work out which genes might affect a disease or trait, they made educated guesses, and picked likely “candidate genes.” For depression, SLC6A4 seemed like a great candidate: It’s responsible for getting a chemical called serotonin into brain cells, and serotonin had already been linked to mood and depression. Over two decades, this one gene inspired at least 450 research papers.
It expands by 10,000 times in a fraction of a second, it’s 100,000 times softer than Jell-O, and it fends off sharks and Priuses alike.
At first glance, the hagfish—a sinuous, tubular animal with pink-grey skin and a paddle-shaped tail—looks very much like an eel. Naturalists can tell the two apart because hagfish, unlike other fish, lack backbones (and, also, jaws). For everyone else, there’s an even easier method. “Look at the hand holding the fish,” the marine biologist Andrew Thaler once noted. “Is it completely covered in slime? Then, it’s a hagfish.”
Hagfish produce slime the way humans produce opinions—readily, swiftly, defensively, and prodigiously. They slime when attacked or simply when stressed. On July 14, 2017, a truck full of hagfishoverturned on an Oregon highway. The animals were destined for South Korea, where they are eaten as a delicacy, but instead, they were strewn across a stretch of Highway 101, covering the road (and at least one unfortunate car) in slime.
The German chancellor has shown how to win and keep power in a man’s world.
To the six women currently running in the 2020 presidential race, I offer this advice: Study German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the world’s most successful living politician, on the basis of both achievement and longevity. Now in her 14th year as chancellor of Europe’s powerhouse, Merkel has upended the rules of the male-dominated German political culture, and transformed her country along the way.
Without fanfare, Merkel made German society friendlier to the ambitions of women. Merkel’s handpicked successor to lead the Christian Democratic Union is a woman, there are six other women in her cabinet, and women abound in her circle of advisers. Alexander Gauland, the leader of Germany’s far-right political party AfD, recently asked, “Are there no men left in the CDU?” The party still has quite a few men; they just don’t run it any longer.
No president I know of has asserted a blanket power to reject any request that doesn’t suit him—until Donald Trump.
In my long career as an academic jack-of-all-trades, I sometimes teach law students Jurisprudence—that is, Philosophy of Law. The course begins with the question “What is law?” and its corollary, “What is lawlessness?”
The latter comes in two flavors. The first is anarchy—Hobbes’s “war of all against all,” a Mad Max moonscape in which only stealth and brute force provide even a semblance of safety. Such situations existed for millennia and, though relatively rare, exist in remote parts of the globe today.
But there is an authoritarian lawlessness that is far more common in the 21st century, and next time I teach the course, I will have the most precise example of this second version I have ever seen: the dispute over 26 U.S. Code § 6103(f)(1), which reads: “Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary [of the Treasury] shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request,” subject only to a requirement that the return be considered in closed session.
25 years ago, Neil Gaiman introduced another bespectacled teen boy with a magical destiny.
An unassuming English kid with glasses obtains a pet owl, and takes up his preordained destiny to enter a secret world of magic hidden in plain sight—brought to you by one of the world's most successful fantasy authors. That thumbnail summary of course describes Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling's hit series first published in 1997, which is still a massive pop-culture phenomenon today. But the description also fits The Books of Magic, a DC Comics miniseries published 25 years ago this month by Neil Gaiman. Though largely forgotten, the series foretold much of pop-culture's current (and seemingly insatiable) appetite for the superhero and fantasy genres.
The Books of Magic's fall into obscurity seems on the surface like a surprising failure of marketing. Tim Hunter, the 12-year-old star of the series, is even visually a dead ringer for Harry Potter; you'd almost believe the assorted artists (John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, and Paul Johnson) had been getting time-travel bulletins from seven years down the road. (A magic bespectacled tween protagonist with an owl has the potential to become a hit, as everyone now knows.) Neil Gaiman was already a celebrated writer back in 1990, and the ensuing years confirmed his ability to write massive bestsellers such as American Gods and Coraline. So why did Harry Potter become a household name while Tim Hunter has remained a random tidbit of esoteric geek knowledge?
China has more leverage in its trade war with the U.S. than you think.
Just how bad are things between the United States and China? Over an evening beer in Beijing this week, a friend and I debated which prominent American company China would whack first. It’s a serious question—and the answer could be the next ugly step in the escalating economic dispute between the two powers.
The standard line from President Donald Trump and those who support his get-tough approach toward Beijing is that because China sells more to the U.S. than the other way around, Washington has the upper hand in its game of tariffs. “China buys MUCH less from us than we buy from them,” Trump recently tweeted, “so we are in a fantastic position.”
Statistically, that’s true: The U.S. exported only $120 billion worth of goods to China in 2018, compared with the $540 billion it imported. Beijing has a lot less stuff to tax, so the amount of damage it can inflict on the American economy and business through tariffs is much more limited. That view seemed confirmed when Beijing announced a surprisingly moderate package of new duties in retaliation for Trump’s latest broadside. While Washington hiked tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion of Chinese products, and is threatening to slap on even more, Beijing responded by increasing tariffs on only about $60 billion of American goods.
The send-off to Season 44 might end up functioning as a send-off to a particularly toothless era for the show.
Saturday Night Live opened the last episode of its 44th season with a sketch featuring Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, sitting in the Oval Office, telling a few jokes, and then singing a song with a coterie of characters from his administration. That might sound like par for the course for this show, but it was actually Baldwin’s first appearance in character sinceMarch, when SNL mocked the president’sreaction to the Mueller report. Almost three years into a presidency one could charitably describe as newsworthy, the best this show could come up with for a season finale was Trump singing Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” and shimmying behind his desk, as if daring the audience to, well, stop him.
The brewing news going into last night’s episode was that Kate McKinnon, the indisputable star of this era of SNL, might be departing for greener pastures. Her contract is up as of now and she may be ready to move on to movie stardom like countless breakout actors before her. But if this was her last hurrah, there was little sign of it, and certainly no grand send-off like the ones Kristen Wiig or Bill Hader got. Instead, there was the same slightly lackluster mix of topical material and unmemorable goofy sketch writing that has defined the show in recent years. SNL has survived for so many decades by knowing when to pull the trigger on a revamp, and Baldwin’s dismal karaoke work last night was the surest sign yet that something needs to change.