Winchester, 52, was shot in an airport parking lot and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said Oklahoma City Police Captain Paco Balderrama at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Police previously said there were reports of a second victim, but Balderrama did not mention this person during the latest press conference. The suspect was later found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The motive is still unclear.
Police evacuated everyone from the airport, where all arriving and departing flights were suspended. Several hours later, operations resumed. Around 30 flights were canceled because of the shooting.
A group of international swimmers swam across the Dead Sea for seven hours Tuesday to raise awareness about the hyper-saline lake’s shrinking water levels.
The swimmers made the 16-kilometer (10-mile) trip from Jordan to Israel in masks and snorkels to protect them from the water's high salt concentration. The swim was the first of its kind in the lake, which, at 423 meters (1,388 feet) below sea level, is the lowest point on Earth. The swim’s organizers say the Dead Sea’s water level has dropped by more than 25 meters (82 feet) in the past 30 years.
“Oh, it's absolutely crazy,” Jackie Cobell, an English long-distance swimmer, told the AP Tuesday about the crossing. But “this is really important, because it's disappearing fast.”
The swim was open only to open-water marathon swimmers. Participants—from Israel, South Africa, New Zealand Denmark, the Palestinian territories, among other places—were followed by boats carrying medical supplies and food. They were instructed to take water breaks every 30 minutes and apply Vaseline to skin to protect against the chafing caused by the salty water. The water is painful if it gets into the eyes, and can be deadly if swallowed. All but three of the swimmers finished the crossing.
The lake depends on a steady flow of freshwater to replenish the water that evaporates. In the 1960s, Israel built a pumping station on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, diverting the lake’s main source of freshwater into a pipeline system for the country, Joshua Hammer explained in Smithsonian magazine in 2005. A decade later, Jordan and Syria diverted another important inlet. The extraction of minerals from the lake has also contributed to its decline. Environmentalists have lobbied Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority for years to nominate the Dead Sea as a United Nations World Heritage site, which would provide certain protections.
U.K. Signs Off on Extradition of Alleged FBI Hacker Lauri Love
U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd approved Monday the extradition of Lauri Love to the United States, where he faces nearly a century in prison for allegedly hacking into federal government computers.
Rudd said she “carefully considered all relevant matters” before signing off on Love’s extradition, noting the serious charges the 32-year-old Suffolk native was facing, The Guardian reports. In September, a British court approved Love’s extradition for his alleged involvement in a series of Anonymous-affiliated hacks into several U.S. government agencies including the FBI, the U.S. Army, the Missile Defense Agency, and the Federal Reserve—hacks the U.S. said resulted in the release of confidential information and caused millions of dollars in damage. Love faces charges in three different jurisdictions and up to 99 years in prison if convicted.
Love, who has Asperger’s syndrome, told the court being sent to a U.S. prison would endanger his mental health and pose a high risk of him committing suicide. He argued that his extradition should be blocked on the grounds it would violate his human rights. Such a move is not without precedent— that very exception was made by then-Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012 for Gary McKinnon, an alleged hacker with Asperger’s syndrome who was accused of hacking U.S. military computers.
Rudd acknowledged Love’s “physical and mental health issues,” but said she believed the U.S. facilities were adequate enough to address them.
Love’s father, Alexander, told the BBC they would appeal the decision.
South Korean Opposition Vows National Campaign to Oust President Park
South Korea’s opposition leaders vowed to launch a national campaign to oust Park Geun-hye, whose recent scandal involving a political confidante has gripped the country and embroiled her presidency, Yonhap News Agency reports.
Moon Jae-in, a former Democratic Party leader and a potential contender for the South Korean presidency in next year’s election, pledged to spearhead a “a nationwide campaign” pushing for Park’s resignation. Other opposition leaders, including Seoul’s mayor, echoed Moon’s calls for Park to step down. Here’s a photo of Moon joining protesters calling for Park’s resignation:
Yoo Yeong-ha, Park’s attorney, requested Tuesday that Park be given more time to prepare for the investigation into Park’s relationship with Choi Soon-sil, a long-time friend of the president who has been charged with attempted fraud and abuse of authority. Yoo said the investigation should be conducted in a way that minimizes any impact on Park’s presidential duties, noting “the investigation or trial of the president, while he or she is still in office, could paralyze state affairs and divide public opinion.”
The scandal has indeed proved to be the worst crisis of Park’s political career, sending her approval rating to 5 percent—the lowest for any leader of the country in nearly 70 years.
What Do the Corruption Charges Against a Top Russian Official Mean?
Russia detained Alexei Ulyukayev, its economy minister, Tuesday after he was caught in a sting taking a $2 million bribe in exchange for approving the sale of a state-run oil producer. It is the highest-profile corruption case in Vladimir Putin’s 16-year rule in a country where government corruption is common, and it likely represents tension in the Russian president’s inner circle.
Investigators wiretapped Ulyukayev’s phone for months after learning he threatened operators of Rosneft that he’d “create impediments” in their bid to buy Bashneft, a smaller state-run oil producer. He is the first economy minister since the Stalin era to be arrested while in office. Some politicians pointed to it as evidence of Russia’s desire to rid the government of corruption.
“Everyone is equal before the law,” said the speaker of the lower house of parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin.
Inside the Kremlin, however, the story seems different. Igor Sechin, Rosneft’s top official, a friend to Putin and one of the most powerful men in the country, wanted to purchase Bashneft, while Russia’s prime minister thought it should go to a private company. Ulyukayev is in charge of selling state-owned companies, and he had originally sided with the prime minister. He eventually came around to the idea of selling to Rosneft at market price—$5 billion. The storyline has raised several questions, like why Ulyukayev would try to bribe one of the country’s most powerful men, someone so close to Putin? And why he would even seek a bribe for the market-price transfer of a state-owned company to another state-owned company?
Some experts believe it’s the beginning of an internal purge against liberals in the government, or score-settling.
Hong Kong Bars Pro-Independence Lawmakers From Office
A Hong Kong court ruled Tuesday that two pro-independence lawmakers are disqualified from taking their seats in the city’s legislature after a controversy erupted following their refusal to pledge allegiance to China.
Judge Thomas Au Hing-cheung said in his judgement that Yau Wai-ching, 25, and Sixtus Leung, 30, did not “faithfully and truthfully” perform the legislative oath required of them to serve in Hong Kong as required by the Chinese territory’s Basic Law. He also ruled they could not be given a chance to retake their oaths.
The judge was referring to a swearing-in ceremony last month, during which the politicians—both of whom advocate for independence from China—altered the words of their oaths to pledge allegiance to the “Hong Kong nation” instead of China, which they referred to instead using a derogatory term and other vulgar language. Beijing last week prevented them from taking office, a decision that prompted street protests.
Leung told the South China Morning Post he intends to appeal the decision—one Yau said was made due to Beijing’s influence.
Under the one-country-two-systems formula that has governed relations between Beijing and Hong Kong since the 1997 handover, the territory enjoys wide-ranging autonomy, but Beijing still has final say over how the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini constitution, is interpreted.
Twitter says it has taken action to combat the increased “abuse, bullying, and harassment we've seen across the Internet … over the past few years.”
The company said it is expanding its “mute” function to include “keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations you don't want to see notifications about.” It’s also giving users a more direct way to report “hateful conduct” against people “on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.” And, it said, it has “retrained all of our support teams on our policies … in order to deal more effectively with this conduct when it's reported to us.”
The announcement Tuesday comes after months of criticism against the type of speech for which Twitter has become infamous. BuzzFeed Newsadds: “The company’s failure to curb abuse has turned the platform into a primary destination for trolls and hate groups — a reputation that reportedly drove away potential buyers, including Salesforce and Disney this summer.”
Russia Resumes Aleppo Offensive Hours After Putin and Trump Talk
Russia resumed its offensive on Tuesday in rebel-held Aleppo after a weeks-long pause, dropping barrel bombs from helicopters and firing missiles at targets. The strikes were paused three weeks ago to allow for civilians to leave the area, but Russian President Vladimir Putin resumed bombing just hours after speaking with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
The Kremlin said Tuesday the two leaders shared the view it was necessary to work together in Syria to fight “the common enemy number one: international terrorism and extremism.” Putin’s spokesman did not say if the two discussed Aleppo specifically, only that they shared a “phenomenally similar” outlook on foreign policy.
Russia’s missiles struck targets in the north of the city, where rebels, some of whom receive U.S. aid, have dug in to fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia backs the Syrian government, and Tuesday’s assault had nothing to do with fighting ISIS, which is not present in Aleppo. Some of the missiles were directed from Admiral Kuznetsov, the Russian aircraft carrier stationed last month on the shores of Syria. The bombs struck rebel weapons depots and training camps in the Idlib province, as well as three neighborhoods in Aleppo. Casualties were not reported yet.
Egyptian Court Overturns Mohammed Morsi's Death Sentence
Egypt’s Court of Cassation, the country’s highest court, overturned Tuesday the death sentence against Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president who was ousted by the military in 2013, and ordered a retrial in the prison-break case for which he received the sentence.
Morsi faces charges in three other cases: One related to espionage for which he was sentenced to life in prison (25 years), plus 15 years. A hearing on his appeal is set for November 27. He and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were also sentenced to life in prison in a separate espionage case; Mosri is appealing that ruling. He and others are also being tried on charges of insulting the judiciary. A hearing is set for December 10.
The court, in its ruling Tuesday, overturned the death penalties against Mohamed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood leader, and other members of the group.
Morsi was elected president in 2012 after massive protests during the Arab Spring saw the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the longtime Egyptian leader. But public sentiment, and the military, quickly turned against Morsi, and mass protests against his rule resulted in his ouster in 2013.
Germany Bans Muslim Group; Raids Mosques, Apartments in 10 Cities
German authorities banned True Religion, a Muslim group perhaps best known for distributing translated Qurans, for its alleged recruitment of militants to fight for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and police conducted raids on mosques, apartments, and offices in several states.
Deutsche Welleadds: “Some 65 raids were carried out in the state of Hesse, 15 of them in the city of Frankfurt alone. Every one of the searches took place in Berlin or the former West.”
Thomas de Maizière, the German interior minister, said True Religion was a Salafist group and its translations of the Quran was used to “spread messages of hate and anti-constitutional ideologies.” He said more than 140 youths had read the group’s translations and traveled to Syria. Deutsche Welle quoted a tweet purportedly sent by True Religion that said: The Quran has been banned in Germany. … We have delivered Allah’s message.”
Germany has intensified its crackdown on ISIS and Islamist sympathizers following several terrorist attacks over the summer. Last week, it arrested five alleged ISIS members, including one described as a senior recruiter for the group. True Religion is the sixth Islamist group to be outlawed in Germany since 2012.
Critics are letting their disdain for the president blind them to geopolitical realities.
When a new coronavirus emerged in China and began spreading around the world, including in the United States, President Donald Trump’s many critics in the American foreign-policy establishment were quick to identify him as part of the problem. Trump had campaigned on an “America first” foreign policy, which after his victory was enshrined in the official National Security Strategy that his administration published in 2017. At the time, I served in the administration and orchestrated the writing of that document. In the years since, Trump has been criticized for supposedly overturning the post–World War II order and rejecting the role the United States has long played in the world. Amid a global pandemic, he’s being accused—on this site and elsewhere—of alienating allies, undercutting multinational cooperation, and causing America to fight the coronavirus alone.
Widespread social-distancing measures have produced some jarring effects across land, air, and sea.
From inside her living room in London, Paula Koelemeijer can feel the world around her growing quieter.
Koelemeijer, a seismologist, has a miniature seismometer sitting on a concrete slab at the base of her first-floor fireplace. The apparatus, though smaller than a box of tissues, can sense all kinds of movement, from the rattle of trains on the tracks near Koelemeijer’s home to the waves of earthquakes rolling in from afar. Since the United Kingdom announced stricter social-distancing rules last month, telling residents not to leave their home except for essential reasons, the seismometer has registered a sharp decrease in the vibrations produced by human activity.
With fewer trains, buses, and people pounding the pavement, the usual hum of public life has vanished, and so has its dependable rhythms: Before the spread of COVID-19 shut down the city, Koelemeijer could plot the seismometer’s data and see the train schedule reflected in the spikes, down to the minute. Now, with fewer trains running, the spikes seem to come at random.
The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. This is how it’s going to play out.
Three months ago, no one knew that SARS-CoV-2 existed. Now the virus has spread to almost every country, infecting at least 446,000 people whom we know about, and many more whom we do not. It has crashed economies and broken health-care systems, filled hospitals and emptied public spaces. It has separated people from their workplaces and their friends. It has disrupted modern society on a scale that most living people have never witnessed. Soon, most everyone in the United States will know someone who has been infected. Like World War II or the 9/11 attacks, this pandemic has already imprinted itself upon the nation’s psyche.
A global pandemic of this scale was inevitable. In recent years, hundreds of health experts have written books, white papers, and op-eds warning of the possibility. Bill Gates has been telling anyone who would listen, including the 18 million viewers of his TED Talk. In 2018, I wrote a story for The Atlantic arguing that America was not ready for the pandemic that would eventually come. In October, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security war-gamed what might happen if a new coronavirus swept the globe. And then one did. Hypotheticals became reality. “What if?” became “Now what?”
Far from making Americans crave stability, the pandemic underscores how everything is up for grabs.
Fear sweeps the land. Many businesses collapse. Some huge fortunes are made. Panicked consumers stockpile paper, food, and weapons. The government’s reaction is inconsistent and ineffectual. Ordinary commerce grinds to a halt; investors can find no safe assets. Political factionalism grows more intense. Everything falls apart.
This was all as true of revolutionary France in 1789 and 1790 as it is of the United States today. Are we at the beginning of a revolution that has yet to be named? Do we want to be? That we are on the verge of a major transformation seems obvious. The onset of the next Depression, a challenge akin to World War II, a national midlife crisis—these comparisons have been offered and many more. But few are calling our current moment a revolution, and some have suggested that the coronavirus pandemic—coinciding as it has with the surge in Joe Biden’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and the decline of Bernie Sanders’s—marks the end of any such possibility. “The Coronavirus Killed the Revolution,” declared the headline of a recent essay in The Atlantic by Shadi Hamid, who argued that the COVID-19 crisis makes people crave “normalcy” over deep structural change. As a historian of 18th- and 19th-century France, I think claims like these are mistaken.
How the coronavirus travels through the air has become one of the most divisive debates in this pandemic.
Updated at 7:22 p.m. ET on April 4, 2020.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many people are now overthinking things they never used to think about at all. Can you go outside? What if you’re walking downwind of another person? What if you’re stuck waiting at a crosswalk and someone is there? What if you’re going for a run, and another runner is heading toward you, and the sidewalk is narrow? Suddenly, daily mundanities seem to demand strategy.
Much of this confusion stems from the shifting conversation around the pandemic. Thus far, the official line has been that the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, could be transmitted only through close contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces. But recently, news reports have suggested that the coronavirus can spread through the air. After 60 choir members in Washington State rehearsed together, 45 fell sick, even though no one seemed symptomatic at the time. Now people who were already feeling cooped up are worrying about going outside. Many state guidelines are ambiguous, and medical advice can muddy matters further. When the writer Deborah Copaken came down with COVID-19 symptoms, her doctor chided her for riding her bike through New York City a week earlier. Going outside in the city wasn’t safe, the physician implied, with “viral load everywhere.”
Local officials and health-care workers are losing faith in the national response, and struggling to improvise their own solutions.
The federal government’s stockpile of medical supplies, gloves, and masks is nearly exhausted, President Donald Trump admitted at a White House briefing on Wednesday. Meanwhile, individual states are scrambling, bidding against one another for the equipment they need.
“The coronavirus pandemic is a damning indictment of this country’s health-care system,” Joseph Kantor, the assistant state health officer for the Louisiana Department of Health, told me. “The richest country in the world is scrounging around for ventilators” and personal protective equipment.
Kantor is one of a dozen health professionals across the country with whom I spoke this week. Taken together, those conversations reveal a federal government that has failed to protect, supply, and prepare the country and its cities. These health-care workers are looking with horror at the chaos in New York City, as evidence of what can happen to a vibrant city in the absence of national strategy and preparedness. As they struggle to avoid a similar crisis, they’re losing faith in the federal government, and resorting to their own improvised solutions.
More young people in the South seem to be dying from COVID-19. Why?
In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has gone from a novel, distant threat to an enemy besieging cities and towns across the world. The burden of COVID-19 and the economic upheaval wrought by the measures to contain it feel epochal. Humanity now has a common foe, and we will grow increasingly familiar with its face.
Yet plenty of this virus’s aspects remain unknown. The developing wisdom—earned the hard way in Wuhan, Washington, and Italy—has been that older people and sicker people are substantially more likely to suffer severe illness or die from COVID-19 than their younger, healthier counterparts. Older people are much more likely than young people to have lung disease, kidney disease, hypertension, or heart disease, and those conditions are more likely to transform a coronavirus infection into something nastier. But what happens when these assumptions don’t hold up, and the young people battling the pandemic share the same risks?
The coronavirus outbreak may last for a year or two, but some elements of pre-pandemic life will likely be won back in the meantime.
Updated at 4:40 ET on March 30, 2020.
The new coronavirus has brought American life to a near standstill, closing businesses, canceling large gatherings, and keeping people at home. All of those people must surely be wondering: When will things return to normal?
The answer is simple, if not exactly satisfying: when enough of the population—possibly 60 or 80 percent of people—is resistant to COVID-19 to stifle the disease’s spread from person to person. That is the end goal, although no one knows exactly how long it will take to get there.
There are two realistic paths to achieving this “population-level immunity.” One is the development of a vaccine. The other is for the disease to work its way through the population, surely killing many, but also leaving many others—those who contract the disease and then recover—immune. “They’re just Teflon at that point,” meaning they can’t get infected again and they won’t pass on the disease, explains Andrew Noymer, a public-health professor at UC Irvine. Once enough people reach Teflon status—though we don’t yet know if recovering from the disease confers any immunity at all, let alone lifelong immunity—normalcy will be restored. (It may also turn out to be the case that people who are immune to the disease can still pass it on under certain circumstances.)*
Trump is utterly unsuited to deal with this crisis, either intellectually or temperamentally.
For his entire adult life, and for his entire presidency, Donald Trump has created his own alternate reality, complete with his own alternate set of facts. He has shown himself to be erratic, impulsive, narcissistic, vindictive, cruel, mendacious, and devoid of empathy. None of that is new.
But we’re now entering the most dangerous phase of the Trump presidency. The pain and hardship that the United States is only beginning to experience stem from a crisis that the president is utterly unsuited to deal with, either intellectually or temperamentally. When things were going relatively well, the nation could more easily absorb the costs of Trump’s psychological and moral distortions and disfigurements. But those days are behind us. The coronavirus pandemic has created the conditions that can catalyze a destructive set of responses from an individual with Trump’s characterological defects and disordered personality.
The Trump administration has just released the model for the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. We can expect a lot of back-and-forth about whether its mortality estimates are too high or low. And its wide range of possible outcomes is certainly confusing: What’s the right number? The answer is both difficult and simple. Here’s the difficult part: There is no right answer. But here’s the simple part: Right answers are not what epidemiological models are for.
Epidemiologists routinely turn to models to predict the progression of an infectious disease. Fighting public suspicion of these models is as old as modern epidemiology, which traces its origins back to John Snow’s famous cholera maps in 1854. Those maps proved, for the first time, that London’s terrible affliction was spreading through crystal-clear fresh water that came out of pumps, not the city’s foul-smelling air. Many people didn’t believe Snow, because they lived in a world without a clear understanding of germ theory and only the most rudimentary microscopes.