—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.
Trump is replacing his national-security adviser with John Bolton, a persistent advocate of military intervention.
On Thursday, Donald Trump replaced a man who built the case for war with North Korea as a last resort with a man who just made the case for war with North Korea as more of a first resort. Trump announced that National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will be succeeded by John Bolton, the George W. Bush-era United Nations ambassador who has advocated for U.S. military action to prevent Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khamenei, and most recently Kim Jong Un from amassing weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea is an “imminent threat” to America because it is only months away from achieving the capacity to deliver nuclear warheads to the U.S. mainland, Bolton wrote in late February in The Wall Street Journal. Therefore “it is perfectly legitimate” for the U.S. to defend itself “by striking [North Korea] first.”
Gigantic piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many Chinese cities, after a rush to build up its new bike-sharing industry vastly overreached.
Last year, bike sharing took off in China, with dozens of bike-share companies quickly flooding city streets with millions of brightly colored rental bicycles. However, the rapid growth vastly outpaced immediate demand and overwhelmed Chinese cities, where infrastructure and regulations were not prepared to handle a sudden flood of millions of shared bicycles. Riders would park bikes anywhere, or just abandon them, resulting in bicycles piling up and blocking already-crowded streets and pathways. As cities impounded derelict bikes by the thousands, they moved quickly to cap growth and regulate the industry. Vast piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many big cities. As some of the companies who jumped in too big and too early have begun to fold, their huge surplus of bicycles can be found collecting dust in vast vacant lots. Bike sharing remains very popular in China, and will likely continue to grow, just probably at a more sustainable rate. Meanwhile, we are left with these images of speculation gone wild—the piles of debris left behind after the bubble bursts.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal is drawing attention to malicious data thieves and brokers. But every Facebook app—even the dumb, innocent ones—collected users’ personal data without even trying.
For a spell during 2010 and 2011, I was a virtual rancher of clickable cattle on Facebook.
It feels like a long time ago. Obama was serving his first term as president. Google+ hadn’t arrived, let alone vanished again. Steve Jobs was still alive, as was Kim Jong Il. Facebook’s IPO hadn’t yet taken place, and its service was still fun to use—although it was littered with requests and demands from social games, like FarmVille and Pet Society.
I’d had enough of it—the click-farming games, for one, but also Facebook itself. Already in 2010, it felt like a malicious attention market where people treated friends as latent resources to be optimized. Compulsion rather than choice devoured people’s time. Apps like FarmVille sold relief for the artificial inconveniences they themselves had imposed.
Lawmakers couldn’t reach an agreement to stabilize Obamacare or extend DACA in their omnibus spending bill, possibly dooming the issues until after the November elections.
Congress crammed something for just about everyone into the $1.3 trillion spending package unveiled on Wednesday—more money for the military, border security, the opioid epidemic, infrastructure, student loans, election security, and even a few modest measures to prevent gun violence.
But lawmakers whiffed on striking agreements on two of their biggest priorities of the last six months: stabilizing the individual health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act and resolving the status of young undocumented immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Negotiations over both issues broke down in the final days leading up to a March 23 deadline for funding the government. And given the likelihood that the omnibus spending bill will be the last major piece of legislation enacted before the midterm campaign heats up, Congress may have missed its best chance to act either on DACA or Obamacare before the November election.
Data misuse is a feature, not a bug—and it’s plaguing our entire culture.
After five days of silence, Mark Zuckerberg finally acknowledged the massive data compromise that allowed Cambridge Analytica to obtain extensive psychographic information about 50 million Facebook users. His statement, which acknowledged that Facebook had made mistakes in responding to the situation, wasn’t much of an apology—Zuckerberg and Facebook have repeatedly demonstrated they seem to have a hard time saying they’re sorry.
For me, Zuckerberg’s statement fell short in a very specific way: He’s treating the Cambridge Analytica breach as a bad-actor problem when it’s actually a known bug.
In the 17-month long conversation Americans have been having about social media’s effects on democracy, two distinct sets of problems have emerged. The ones getting the most attention are bad-actor problems—where someone breaks the rules and manipulates a social-media system for their own nefarious ends. Macedonian teenagers create sensational and false content to profit from online ad sales. Disinformation experts plan rallies and counter-rallies, calling Americans into the streets to scream at each other. Botnets amplify posts and hashtags, building the appearance of momentum behind online campaigns like #releasethememo. Such problems are the charismatic megafauna of social-media dysfunction. They’re fascinating to watch and fun to study—who wouldn’t be intrigued by the team of Russians in St. Petersburg who pretended to be Black Lives Matter activists and anti-Clinton fanatics in order to add chaos to the presidential election in the United States? Charismatic megafauna may be the thing that attracts all the attention—when really there are smaller organisms, some invisible to the naked eye, that can dramatically shift the health of an entire ecosystem.
In 2003, Congress passed legislation to eliminate sexual assaults against inmates. One young man’s story shows how elusive that goal remains.
Three years ago, the young man who would later be known as John Doe 1 shuffled into the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. The town of 11,000 residents, which sits in the remote center of the state, houses five prisons, and over the years, it has earned the nickname “I Own Ya.” John, who was 17, had already gotten over the initial fear of going to an adult prison—he had spent several months at a county jail near Detroit and an intake facility in Jackson—but he also knew he would be spending longer at this lonely outpost, a minimum of three years for a couple of home invasions. It was still wintery in April, and his state-issued jacket was poor protection against the drafts coming through the broken windows, shattered by men who had passed through before. “It was pretty ragged,” he recalled recently, “a tear down.”
How sugar daddies and vaginal microbes created the world’s largest HIV epidemic
VULINDLELA, South Africa—Mbali N. was just 17 when a well-dressed man in his 30s spotted her. She was at a mall in a nearby town, alone, when he called out. He might have been captivated by her almond eyes and soaring cheekbones. Or he might have just seen her for what she was: young and poor.
She tried to ignore him, she told me, but he followed her. They exchanged numbers. By the time she got home, he had called her. He said he wasn’t married, and she doesn’t know if that was true. They met at a house in a different township; she doesn’t know if it belonged to him. Mbali, who is now 24, also doesn’t know if he had HIV.
She enjoyed spending time with the man during the day, when they would talk and go to the movies. But she didn’t like it when he called at night and demanded to have sex, which happened about six times a month. When she refused him, he beat her. For her trouble, he gave her a cellphone, sweets, and chocolates.
“I thought we would at least know what was going to happen to us.”
At first, Elena Remigi thought getting British citizenship would be a formality. Though she was born in Milan, she had lived in the United Kingdom for more than a decade. She owned a house, she had a car, and she even got permanent residency—an arduous process that involves filling out an 85-page application and providing a stack of documents to prove eligibility. But after Britons voted in June 2016 for the U.K. to leave the European Union, she thought the long and expensive process to get a British passport would be worth it.
It was so easy before. In much the same way an American from, say, Nebraska, could pick up and move to New York without having to go through an immigration process, let alone change citizenship, one point of the European Union was to give all European citizens the same kinds of rights to live and work anywhere in Europe. Moving from Milan to London was a lot like moving from Omaha to Ithaca. Except it’s not anymore—but nobody’s exactly sure yet what it’s supposed to be like.
Schools are moving toward a model of continuous, lifelong learning in order to meet the needs of today’s economy.
When the giant Indian technology-services firm Infosys announced last November that it would open a design and innovation hub in Providence, the company’s president said one of the key reasons he chose Rhode Island was its strong network of higher-education institutions: Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Community College of Rhode Island.
In a higher-education system that is often divided between two- and four-year colleges and further segregated between elite and nonelite institutions, it’s not often that a community college is mentioned in the same breath as an Ivy League campus. Nor is a two-year college seen as a training ground for jobs in the so-called creative economy, which include industries such as design, fashion, and computer gaming that typically require bachelor’s degrees.