—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.
Omicron, also known as B.1.1.529, was first detected in Botswana and South Africa earlier this month, and very little is known about it so far. But the variant is moving fast. South Africa, the country that initially flagged Omicron to WHO this week, has experienced a surge of new cases—some reportedly in people who were previously infected or vaccinated—and the virus has already spilled across international borders into places such as Hong Kong, Belgium, Israel, and the United Kingdom. Several nations are now selectively shutting down travel to impede further spread. For instance, on Monday, the United States will start restricting travel from Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi.
Instead of using his acquittal to promote vigorous discussion, many administrators sent out statements decrying the verdict.
At universities, the recent acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse should be an opportunity to study a divisive case that sparked complex debates about issues as varied as self-defense laws, guns, race, riots, the rights of defendants, prosecutorial missteps, media bias, and more. If administrators were doing their jobs, faculty and students would freely air a wide variety of viewpoints and have opportunities to better understand one another’s diverse perspectives. Instead, many administrators are preemptively imposing their preferred narratives.
The Rittenhouse saga began in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25, amid rioting that followed the police shooting of a Black man. Rittenhouse, then 17, armed himself with an AR-15-style rifle and walked into the chaos, claiming that he intended to protect the community. He wound up shooting three men, killing two. Last week, a Wisconsin jury found him not guilty of murder, crediting his claim that, at the moment he fired, he feared for his life and acted in self-defense. This, many analysts argued, was a plausible conclusion to draw from Wisconsin law and video footage and testimony presented at trial.
People with scant illusions about Trump are volunteering to help him execute one of his Big Lies.
If Donald Trump had been supported only by people who affirmatively liked him, his attack on American democracy would never have gotten as far as it did.
Instead, at almost every turn, Trump was helped by people who had little liking for him as a human being or politician, but assessed that he could be useful for purposes of their own. The latest example: the suddenly red-hot media campaign to endorse Trump’s fantasy that he was the victim of a “Russia hoax.”
The usual suspects in the pro-Trump media ecosystem will of course endorse and repeat everything Trump says, no matter how outlandish. But it’s not pro-Trumpers who are leading the latest round of Trump-Russia denialism. This newest round of excuse-making is being sounded from more respectable quarters, in many cases by people distinguished as Trump critics. With Trump out of office—at least for the time being—they now feel free to subordinate their past concerns about him to other private quarrels with the FBI or mainstream media institutions. On high-subscription Substacks, on popular podcasts, even from within prestige media institutions, people with scant illusions about Trump the man and president are nonetheless volunteering to help him execute one of his Big Lies.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is a mainstay of basic cable—and a rallying cry for a country that is losing touch with itself.
In 2007, in one of the first episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy Fieri visited Patrick’s Roadhouse, a railway-station-turned-restaurant in Santa Monica, California. The diner’s chef, Silvio Moreira, walked Fieri through the preparation of one of Patrick’s most notable dishes, the Rockefeller—a burger topped with mushrooms, sour cream, jack cheese, and … caviar. Fieri, looking playfully trepidatious, lifted the burger with both hands, said a fake prayer, and did what he would proceed to do thousands of times on the show: He took an enormous bite. And then he fell silent. “Wooow,” he commented, finally, shooting Moreira a what-have-you-done-to-me look.
“Different, huh?” Moreira said, grinning. “Yeah,” Fieri replied. The show’s camera discreetly cut away to the next scene.
The preponderance of the evidence suggests that social media is causing real damage to adolescents.
Social media gets blamed for many of America’s ills, including the polarization of our politics and the erosion of truth itself. But proving that harms have occurred to all of society is hard. Far easier to show is the damage to a specific class of people: adolescent girls, whose rates of depression, anxiety, and self-injury surged in the early 2010s, as social-media platforms proliferated and expanded. Much more than for boys, adolescence typically heightens girls’ self-consciousness about their changing body and amplifies insecurities about where they fit in their social network. Social media—particularly Instagram, which displaces other forms of interaction among teens, puts the size of their friend group on public display, and subjects their physical appearance to the hard metrics of likes and comment counts—takes the worst parts of middle school and glossy women’s magazines and intensifies them.
When life feels this precarious, it’s only natural to roll the dice on just about everything.
Gambling has become one of the defining pleasures of our time, the perfect accompaniment to an era of high-risk, rigged economies and a looming sense of collapse. Once there was Las Vegas; now there’s a Las Vegas in every phone.
You can bet on almost anything today. Elections. Literary prizes. If you have a feeling that, say, Lapuan Virkiä is going to beat Porin Pesakarhut in the women’s Superpesis, the top professional pesäpallo league in Finland, you can put your money where your mouth is. During the pandemic, as casinos and racetracks closed, you could wager on the evening’s forecast in real time, or on the upcoming winter snowfall. There was serious action on the highest daily temperatures of major American cities. Then there are the ads. If you watch sports regularly, you probably feel, as I do, that the games have become interruptions in a more or less constant barrage of wagering promotion. Gambling is swallowing sports.
Every year thousands of Americans die on the roads. Individuals take the blame for systemic problems.
More than 20,000 people died on American roadways from January to June, the highest total for the first half of any year since 2006. U.S. road fatalities have risen by more than 10 percent over the past decade, even as they have fallen across most of the developed world. In the European Union, whose population is one-third larger than America’s, traffic deaths dropped by 36 percent between 2010 and 2020, to 18,800. That downward trend is no accident: European regulators have pushed carmakers to build vehicles that are safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and governments regularly adjust road designs after a crash to reduce the likelihood of recurrence.
But in the United States, the responsibility for road safety largely falls on the individual sitting behind the wheel, or riding a bike, or crossing the street. American transportation departments, law-enforcement agencies, and news outlets frequently maintain that most crashes—indeed, 94 percent of them, according to the most widely circulated statistic—are solely due to human error. Blaming the bad decisions of road users implies that nobody else could have prevented them. That enables car companies to deflect attention from their decisions to add heft and height to the SUVs and trucks that make up an ever-larger portion of vehicle sales, and it allows traffic engineers to escape scrutiny for dangerous street designs.
The traumas of the past year have left some people wrestling with an awful question: Am I still a good person?
Throughout the pandemic, people have had to make impossibly tough decisions. Kathleen Turner, a 52-year-old intensive-care nurse in San Francisco, has been haunted by hers. Since COVID-19 patients started overwhelming her hospital last spring, she has had to give patients sedatives knowing they would likely have lasting negative health consequences, and systematically deny relatives a chance to say goodbye to dying loved ones. Last year, Turner was following guidelines when she told a woman that she could not visit her dying mother—on Mother’s Day. “I upheld the rule on the piece of paper,” she told me. “But in terms of what would a good person do? It’s not that.” Collectively, these experiences have fundamentally shaken her sense of morality. “Am I really a good person? There’s that seed of doubt,” she said.
Medical professionals are used to being believed, but as patients, they found that their expertise didn’t matter.
Before she caught COVID-19 at a wedding in March 2020, the physician associate spent her days diagnosing and treating people; after she was infected, she turned to her own colleagues for that same care. “At first,” she told me, “I felt a kinship with them.” But when her tests started coming back negative, her doctors began telling her that her symptoms—daily migraines, unrelenting vertigo, tinnitus, severe crashes after mild activity—were just in her head. (I agreed not to name her so that she could speak openly about people she still works with.)
When she went to the emergency room because half her body had gone numb, the ER doctor offered to book her an appointment with a counselor. Another doctor told her to try removing her IUD, because, she remembers him saying, “hormones do funny things to women.” When she asked her neurologist for more tests, he said that her medical background had already earned her “more testing than I was entitled to,” she told me. Being part of the medical community made her no different from any other patient with long COVID, her eventual diagnosis. Despite being a medical professional, she couldn’t convince her own physicians—people who knew her and worked with her—that something was seriously wrong.
A monument to the Tiananmen Square massacre faces the threat of removal, part of a broader effort in Hong Kong to erase the public memory.
Under the relentless crush of Beijing, the courtrooms of Hong Kong have become some of the few venues safe for protest in the city. Defendants accused or convicted of political crimes have turned otherwise banal hearings and bail applications into opportunities to voice dissent and challenge the arduous legal process.
In mid-November Lee Cheuk-yan, a veteran prodemocracy figure, used his mitigation hearing, where defendants can address the court in hopes of obtaining a lesser sentence, to deliver a stirring and defiant speech. He recounted his memories of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, exalted Hong Kongers for never forgetting the tragedy, and excoriated city officials for curtailing basic freedoms. Lee, who for decades helped organize the annual vigil held in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to mourn the crackdown, choked up as he addressed the courtroom.