—At least 29 people were killed after explosions went off through Mexico’s best-known fireworks market in Tultapec. More here
—German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the deadly attack at a Christmas market in Berlin as a likely “act of terrorism.” At least 12 people were killed Monday when a truck plowed through a crowd at the open-air shopping area. The suspect remains at large. More here.
—The District of Columbia passed the most generous paid-family-leave law in the country. More here
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
29 Killed, Dozens Injured in Mexico Fireworks Market Explosion
Updated at 9 p.m.
At least 29 people were killed after explosions went off through Mexico’s best-known fireworks market Tuesday in Tultapec, Reuters reports. Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico’s National Civil Protection coordinator, said at least 60 people were injured. The explosions caused huge plums of smoke to rise from the open-air market. This is what the scene looked like:
D.C. Passes the Most Generous Paid-Family-Leave Law in the U.S.
The District of Columbia passed the most generous paid-family-leave law in the country Tuesday, joining a growing number of state and local governments implementing similar legislation. The D.C. council passed the legislation by a vote of 9 to 4, enough to override a possible veto by Mayor Muriel Bowser. As my colleague Alexia Campbell explains, the legislation will provide full- and part-time employees with eight weeks of paid parental leave. It also provides two weeks of sick time and six weeks to take care of ailing family members. The fund for the legislation, which provides up to 90 percent of a worker’s wages for eight weeks, capped at $1,000 a week, comes from a 0.62-percent increase in employer payroll taxes, which would raise $250 million every year in new taxes. The legislation does not apply to federal or District government workers. The legislation was opposed by business groups, including the D.C. Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world without a national paid-family-leave law.
Obama Bans Offshore Drilling in Large Parts of the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans
President Obama permanently protected hundreds of millions of acres of U.S.-owned large sections of the Arctic Ocean and some sections of the Atlantic Ocean from oil and gas leasing. Announcing the withdrawal Tuesday, the White House said the move was designed in part to protect 31 canyons stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia along the edge of the Atlantic continental shelf and the wildlife that depends on the area. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced similar plans Tuesday for that nation’s section of the Arctic Ocean. Obama, in using the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953, guaranteed that subsequent presidents cannot override his order, The Washington Postreports. Congress, though, may act on its own. The U.S. has relied less on crude from the Arctic. According to the Associated Press, just 0.1 percent of offshore production came from that region. The move also protects tourism and the fishing industry in those regions.
Swiss Police Say Gunman Had No Links to Terrorist Organizations
The gunman who shot three people worshipping at a mosque in Zurich had no links to terrorist organizations, and was a Swiss-born man with Ghanaian roots, police said Tuesday. Officers did not give the name of the suspect, who killed himself 300 yards from the mosque, but they did say he was a 24-year-old from the nearby town of Uster. Investigators said the man quit his job on Friday, then killed another man, an acquaintance, on Sunday. The motive for the attack is not yet known.
The Chinese Navy returned the unmanned drone it seized in international waters back to the United States Monday near the area where it was taken, the Department of Defense said. The Chinese government also confirmed its return. The drone was deployed Thursday as part of a mission to collect data on ocean and weather patterns in the South China Sea when a Chinese vessel seized it and left, ignoring calls by the U.S. crew that deployed it to give it back. The incident prompted the State Department to file a formal request asking China to return the drone—an incident Peter Cook, a Defense Department spokesman, called “inconsistent with both international law and standards of professionalism for conduct between navies at sea.” It is unclear what condition the drone was in when it was returned. President-elect Donald Trump condemned the seizure as an “unprecedented act,” then suggested that China should keep the drone. China’s Defense Ministry accused the U.S. of “hyping up” the incident Sunday, adding that the drone would be returned in an “appropriate manner.”
Swiss Police Call Off Search for Suspect in Mosque Shooting
Police in Zurich have stopped the search for the assailant who shot and wounded three people inside a mosque Monday night. Officials believe a body found nearby the Islamic Center in the Swiss city may be that of the suspect. Three people, all men, sustained injuries at the mosque, which is popular among Somali immigrants, and are in the hospital in serious condition.Investigators do not consider the attack to be an act of terrorism. Police are expected to release more information at a press conference later today.
Angela Merkel Calls Truck Rampage at Christmas Market 'Act of Terrorism'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday the truck rampage at a Christmas market in Berlin a day earlier was likely “an act of terrorism.” At least 12 people were killed and 48 injured when a vehicle plowed through the crowded open-air shopping area, pinning people under its wheels or throwing them onto pavement. Police detained a person suspected of driving the truck, but the AP now reports, citing Berlin’s police chief, that officials are not sure they have the right suspect in custody. The rest of Berlin’s Christmas markets were closed Tuesday, and flags were flown at half-mast across the country. We’ll be following further developments on this story here.
The country can no longer afford to wait to ascertain why President Trump has subordinated himself to Putin—it must deal with the fact that he has.
We still do not know what hold Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump, but the whole world has now witnessed the power of its grip.
Russia helped Donald Trump into the presidency, as Robert Mueller’s indictment vividly details. Putin, in his own voice, has confirmed that he wanted Trump elected. Standing alongside his benefactor, Trump denounced the special counsel investigating Russian intervention in the U.S. election—and even repudiated his own intelligence appointees.
This is an unprecedented situation, but not an uncontemplated one. At the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, the authors of the Constitution worried a great deal about foreign potentates corrupting the American presidency.
When Gouverneur Morris famously changed his mind in favor of an impeachment clause, he explained his new point of view by invoking a situation very similar to the one now facing the United States:
“Each person comes into our group thinking they are a freak.”
It was AncestryDNA’s customer-service rep who had to break the news to Catherine St Clair.
For her part, St Clair thought she was inquiring about a technical glitch. Her brother—the brother who along with three other siblings had gifted her the DNA test for her birthday—wasn’t showing up right in her family tree. It was not a glitch, the woman on the line had to explain gently, if this news can ever land gently: The man St Clair thought of as her brother only shared enough DNA with her to be a half-sibling. In fact, she didn’t match any family members on her father’s side. Her biological father must be someone else.
“I looked into a mirror and started crying,” says St Clair, now 56. “I’ve taken for granted my whole life that what I was looking at in the mirror was part my mother and part my dad. And now that half of that person I was looking at in the mirror, I didn’t know who that was.”
Putin’s decision to reference William Browder at the post-summit press conference provided even more evidence that a 2016 meeting between Trump-campaign officials and a Russian lawyer was blessed by the Kremlin.
Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET
As Russian President Vladimir Putin stood next to President Donald Trump during a joint press conference in Helsinki on Monday, a wealthy banker turned human-rights activist named William Browder was on the Russian leader’s mind.
Asked whether he would consider extraditing the 12 Russian intelligence officers accused by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of hacking into Democratic organizations during the 2016 presidential election, Putin fell back on an old Cold War tactic—whataboutism—and accused U.S. intelligence officials of helping Browder funnel $400 million worth of cash he allegedly stole from Russia in the form of unpaid taxes into Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “We have a solid reason to believe that some [U.S.] intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions,” Putin said.
In Trump’s zeal to get warmer relations with Russia, the American president has stepped straight into a paradox.
After the summit comes the backlash, and after the backlash comes the climbdown. If Trump intended for his meeting with Vladimir Putin to set Russia and the United States on a course to a warmer relationship—something the U.S. president has repeatedly said he wants—his performance has achieved just the opposite. In his eagerness to pursue better relations with Putin—for example, by casting doubt on his own intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the United States election to help Trump win—he has given more ammunition to those in government who seek to constrain him. Trump’s deferential behavior to Putin in Helsinki has undermined the president’s own desire to “reset” the Russia relationship, likely ensuring just the opposite: a more hawkish approach to Russia from his own government.
It’s not clear whether the omission was intended, but the meaning of a key exchange is dramatically altered as a result.
It was perhaps the most explosive exchange in an incendiary press conference: Russian President Vladimir Putin appearing to frankly admit to a motive for, and maybe even to the act of, meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, despite repeatedly denying Russian interference in American politics during the rest of his appearance with Donald Trump in Finland on Monday.
But the exchange doesn’t appear in full in the White House’s live-stream or transcript of the press conference, and it’s missing entirely from the Kremlin’s transcript of the event. The White House did not immediately provide an explanation for the discrepancy.
Understanding what Putin said depends on what you watch or where you look. If you watch the video of the news conference provided by the Russian government, or by news outlets such as PBS and the Associated Press, you will hear the Reuters reporter Jeff Mason ask a bombshell of a question: “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”
Fresh off of meeting with Vladimir Putin, the U.S. president again questions NATO commitments.
President Donald Trump seems to have complicated feelings about Montenegro, the former Yugoslav republic whose admission into NATO he approved last year.
At Trump’s first NATO summit in 2017, he shoved aside Montenegro’s prime minister, Duško Marković, during the so-called family photo that brings together the leaders of the alliance’s member states in order to get a more prominent position in the picture. Then, in an interview broadcast Tuesday on Fox News, Trump called Montenegro, a country with roughly the same population as Vermont (about 620,000 people) and about the same geographic size as Connecticut, “a tiny country” with “very aggressive people.”
“They may get aggressive, and, congratulations, you’re in World War III,” he said.
The GOP can either defend the United States or serve the damaged and defective man who is now its president.
There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president.
Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.
Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.
Released 10 years ago, Christopher Nolan’s seminal comic-book adaptation legitimized the superhero film—for better and for worse.
In 2008, the superhero movie was foundering at the box office. Just a few years after the success of films such as X-Men and Spider-Man had convinced Hollywood that a growing audience existed for comic-book adaptations, the bloom was off the rose. Films such as Hulk and Superman Returns were high-profile disappointments, opening big in theaters before fading in the face of mixed reviews; other efforts such as Daredevil,Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and Catwoman were largely reviled. The hit of the summer was expected to be Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited fourth Indiana Jones movie, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Instead, the two biggest movies of the year were superhero films—Iron Man and The Dark Knight—each providing a very different road map for the future of a genre that now totally dominates multiplexes. Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a colorful and energetic linked series that just released its 20th entry this year. But none of that would have been possible without Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which came out 10 years ago. It did more than make money. It was such a phenomenon that it conferred instant validity on the comic-book movie and realigned studios’ business strategies—enough that, ironically, a movie like The Dark Knight could never be made again.
A major new study questions the common wisdom about how we should choose our careers.
Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, remembers asking an undergraduate seminar recently, “How many of you are waiting to find your passion?”
“Almost all of them raised their hand and got dreamy looks in their eyes,” she told me. They talked about it “like a tidal wave would sweep over them.” Sploosh. Huzzah! It’s accounting!
Would they have unlimited motivation for their passion? They nodded solemnly.
“I hate to burst your balloon,” she said, “but it doesn’t usually happen that way.”
What Dweck asked her students is a common refrain in American society. The term “Follow your passion” has increased ninefold in English books since 1990. “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” is another college-counseling standby of unknown provenance.
From tidy stories of reunited migrant families to #PlaneBae, Americans’ bias toward optimism is a wonderful thing—until it’s not.
Late last week, as the world’s attention was tugged in the typical directions, a 6-year-old girl named Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid was reunited with her mother, Cindy. The two, who had fled El Salvador earlier in the summer, had been separated more than a month before, at the U.S.–Mexico border, in fulfillment of the Trump administration’s policy of breaking up migrant families as a deterrence to immigration. While the little girl—she goes by Jimena—was in many ways just one of the more than 2,000 children believed to have been incarcerated as part of that project, she was also, in another way, a singular one: Jimena was one of the kids who had been heard wailing, in the audio distributed by ProPublica, for her lost family. Jimena—or, more specifically, her disembodied voice, sobbing and disconsolate—became, in that, one of the symbols of a governmental policy that treats cruelty not as a byproduct of hard choices, but as precisely their point. A wall by another means.