—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 Biden vice-presidential-nominee finalist discusses Trump’s pandemic response, Benghazi, and her family’s politics.
A few days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice held a press briefing in her office to talk about the threats she saw on the horizon as Barack Obama’s presidency drew to a close. “What keeps you up at night? one reporter asked toward the end of the meeting. Her answer: a pandemic that spirals out of control.
Yesterday afternoon, I asked Rice how the past five months have compared to what she’d been worried about in the early days of 2017. “This is about in the realm of my worst nightmare,” she told me. That’s why, Rice said, she worked to put together plans, and why she oversaw the creation of the pandemic-preparedness office that Trump famously closed. “We knew it was going to happen. We just couldn’t know when.”
No matter what happens now, the virus will continue to circulate around the world.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has sickened more than 16.5 million people across six continents. It is raging in countries that never contained the virus. It is resurgingin manyof the ones that did. If there was ever a time when this coronavirus could be contained, it has probably passed. One outcome is now looking almost certain: This virus is never going away.
The coronavirus is simply too widespread and too transmissible. The most likely scenario, experts say, is that the pandemic ends at some point—because enough people have been either infected or vaccinated—but the virus continues to circulate in lower levels around the globe. Cases will wax and wane over time. Outbreaks will pop up here and there. Even when a much-anticipated vaccine arrives, it is likely to only suppress but never completely eradicate the virus. (For context, consider that vaccines exist for more than a dozen human viruses but only one, smallpox, has ever been eradicated from the planet, and that took 15 years of immense global coordination.) We will probably be living with this virus for the rest of our lives.
Georgia had an early surge of the virus, and now cases are spiking again. Brian Kemp has refused to learn a thing.
America has botched its coronavirus response in so, so many ways since the pandemic began. Even in a country that stands apart from the world for its horrific failures, there have been as many leadership bungles as there are states: Some failed to heed early warnings. Others refused to learn the lessons of outbreaks that came before theirs. Still others played politics instead of following science. And then there’s Georgia.
Georgia’s response to the pandemic has not been going well. It was bad from the beginning: Back in early April, weeks after other states took initial precautions, Georgia dawdled toward a shutdown while its coronavirus cases surged. Still, less than a month later, the state chose to be among the first in the nation to reopen, bringing back businesses known to accelerate the virus’s spread, such as restaurants and gyms, even though new infections had never made a significant or sustained decline. In June, the state welcomed back bars. What happened next was predictable, and was predicted: Case counts came roaring back. More people got sick and died. Many of these deaths were preventable. The state now has the sixth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the United States, behind five states with significantly larger populations.
Three predictions for what the future might look like
In March, tens of millions of American workers—mostly in white-collar industries such as tech, finance, and media—were thrust into a sudden, chaotic experiment in working from home. Four months later, the experiment isn’t close to ending. For many, the test run is looking more like the long run.
Google announced in July that its roughly 200,000 employees will continue to work from home until at least next summer. Mark Zuckerberg has said he expects half of Facebook’s workforce to be remote within the decade. Twitter has told staff they can stay home permanently.
With corporate giants welcoming far-flung workforces, real-estate markets in the superstar cities that combine high-paid work and high-cost housing are in turmoil. In the San Francisco Bay Area, rents are tumbling. In New York City, offices are still empty; so many well-heeled families with second homes have abandoned Manhattan that it’s causing headaches for the census.
Which is too bad because we really need to understand how the immune system reacts to the coronavirus.
Updated at 10:36 a.m. ET on August 5, 2020.
There’s a joke about immunology, which Jessica Metcalf of Princeton recently told me. An immunologist and a cardiologist are kidnapped. The kidnappers threaten to shoot one of them, but promise to spare whoever has made the greater contribution to humanity. The cardiologist says, “Well, I’ve identified drugs that have saved the lives of millions of people.” Impressed, the kidnappers turn to the immunologist. “What have you done?” they ask. The immunologist says, “The thing is, the immune system is very complicated …” And the cardiologist says, “Just shoot me now.”
The thing is, the immune system is very complicated. Arguably the most complex part of the human body outside the brain, it’s an absurdly intricate network of cells and molecules that protect us from dangerous viruses and other microbes. These components summon, amplify, rile, calm, and transform one another: Picture a thousand Rube Goldberg machines, some of which are aggressively smashing things to pieces. Now imagine that their components are labeled with what looks like a string of highly secure passwords: CD8+, IL-1β, IFN-γ. Immunology confuses even biology professors who aren’t immunologists—hence Metcalf’s joke.
A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.
How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.
In the first half of 2020, SARS‑CoV‑2—the new coronavirus behind the disease COVID‑19—infected 10 million people around the world and killed about half a million.
The comedian’s employees say that fame has enabled callousness and abuse on her show. The warm testimonies of her superstar friends highlight their point.
Famous people want the world to know that Ellen DeGeneres is nice to famous people. Addressing media reports alleging a culture of harassment and bullying at DeGeneres’s talk show, the singer Katy Perry tweeted Tuesday that she’s “only ever had positive takeaways from my time with Ellen.” Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Hart, Jay Leno, Diane Keaton, and the superstar agent Scooter Braun have all recently made similar declarations about DeGeneres’s kindness, so as to push back against claims painting her as callous toward staffers, fans, and other entertainment-industry figures. “Looking forward to the future where we get back to loving one another,” Hart wrote, blasting those who have criticized DeGeneres and called for her to step down. “This hate shit has to stop.”
How I got co-opted into helping the rich prevail at the expense of everybody else
From my parents’ teenage years in the 1930s and ’40s through my teenage years in the 1970s, American economic life became a lot more fair and democratic and secure than it had been when my grandparents were teenagers. But then all of a sudden, around 1980, that progress slowed, stopped, and in many ways reversed.
I didn’t really start understanding the nature and enormity of the change until the turn of this century, after the country had been fully transformed. One very cold morning just after Thanksgiving in 2006, I was on the way to Eppley Airfield in Omaha after my first visit to my hometown since both my parents had died, sharing a minivan jitney from a hotel with a couple of Central Casting airline pilots—tall, fit white men around my age, one wearing a leather jacket. We chatted. To my surprise, even shock, both of them spent the entire trip sputtering and whining—about being bait-and-switched when their employee-ownership shares of United Airlines had been evaporated by its recent bankruptcy, about the default of their pension plan, about their CEO’s recent 40 percent pay raise, about the company to which they’d devoted their entire careers but no longer trusted at all. In effect, about changing overnight from successful all-American middle-class professionals who’d worked hard and played by the rules into disrespected, cheated, sputtering, whining chumps.
Reopening universities will accomplish little and endanger many.
Despite the continuedspread of the coronavirus, many colleges around the country plan to welcome students back to campus over the coming weeks.
Colleges want to reopen for good, nontrivial reasons. Administrators believe that most students learn better when they are physically assembled in the same place. And they know that the American college experience, at any rate, has long been about more than the classroom. It allows students to cut the umbilical cord, make friends with like-minded people, and pursue extracurricular activities—all of which are much harder to do if your freshman year consists of joining Zoom sessions from your parents’ basement. Many universities also face serious financial problems. If they are unable to reopen this fall, some may collapse.
A white man of the Jim Crow South, he couldn’t escape the burden of race, yet derived creative force from it.
In June 2005, Oprah Winfrey announced a surprising choice as the 55th selection for her influential book club. The coming months would be, she proclaimed, a “Summer of Faulkner,” focused on three of his novels—As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Light in August, available in a special 1,100-page box set weighing in at two pounds. Oprah’s website posted short videotaped lectures by three literature professors to assist readers in making sense of the writer’s notoriously demanding prose. The Faulkner trilogy quickly rose to the No. 2 spot on Amazon’s best-seller list. Some literary critics hailed Winfrey for bringing William Faulkner back into popular consciousness; others challenged any notion of recovery or revival, asking whether he had ever really gone away.