At least two people were killed when 15 coaches of a train derailed in northern India. An additional 26 people were injured. The Sealdah-Ajmer express train went off the tracks around 30 miles outside of Kanpur in the early Wednesday hours. Suresh Prabhu, the Indian minister of railways, said he is personally monitoring the situation.
Injured already started getting medical care,Doctors r attending to all. We r working with hospitals& dist admin to offer all possible help
Trump Tower Given All Clear After Brief Evacuation
Trump Tower in New York City was briefly evacuated Tuesday after a suspicious package was discovered inside the Manhattan building’s lobby, according to the New York City Police Department. J Peter Donald, an NYPD spokesman, said the building was given an all clear after it was determined that the bag only contained children’s toys. President-elect Donald Trump was in Florida at the time was not present for the evacuation.
Richard Adams, Author of 'Watership Down,' Has Died
Richard Adams, the British children’s book author who wrote Watership Down, a best-selling epic tale about a family of rabbits in search of a new home, has died. He was 96. Adams’ daughter confirmed his death to the BBC, saying he died Christmas Eve, just before midnight. Adams wrote his most famous work in 1972, and the tale of how it came about is its own fascinating story. He was a World War II veteran, who later worked as a civil servant in London writing official environmental reports. As a hobby, he wrote fiction, and also enjoyed telling stories to his two daughters. It was one of these tales, during a long car trip, that prompted Adams—at his daughters’ behest—to turn it into a novel. He was 50 at the time, and he wrote in the evening after work. It took Adams two years to finish, and Watership Down became a New York Times best-seller, a staple in high-school English courses, and there are now about 50 million copies in print in 18 languages.
Cristina Kirchner, Argentina's Former President, Faces Corruption Charges
Cristina Kirchner, the former president of Argentina, was indicted Tuesday by a federal judge over allegations of corruption tied to an infrastructure project. Kirchner is accused of using her position to award government-funded public works projects to a construction company owned by a close family associate. The judge’s order also seizes $640 million of Kirchner’s assets, and indicts the country’s former planning minister, the former public works secretary, and the man who owns the construction company that profited from the contracts. Kirchner has called the allegations politically motivated, and accused current President Mauricio Macri of concocting the plot against her. In an October court appearance, she said the accounts had all been approved by both parliament and the country’s auditor general.
Man Trampled to Death by Horses at Rubi Ibarra Garcia's Quinceanera
A man was trampled to death by a horse at the 15th birthday party of Rubi Ibarra Garcia, whose Facebook event invitation became an international meme and attracted 1.3 million invitees. The teenager’s parents had posted a video in which Ibarra’s father, Crescencio, says his daughter’s quinceanera party would feature live bands, food, and a horse race. He ended the video by saying, "Everyone is cordially invited." The internet got hold of it, and it was passed to millions of people. Spotify made a special playlist for the party, a Mexican airline gave special flight discounts, and celebrities even made videos ribbing Ibarra’s party. With such wide attention, police in central Mexico’s San Luis Potosi state, where the party would be held, said they’d have to work security in case it got out of control. Instead of millions, thousands showed up, including dozens of reporters. The party had gone on without issue, until the horse race, when a 66-year-old man who worked at a local stable stepped onto the track and was trampled to death. Some people in attendance said he likely misjudged the horses’ distance, or that he became overly excited about cheering on his horse, Sleeping Bear, which he’d entered into the competition.
Romanian President Rejects Nomination of Muslim Woman for PM
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis rejected the nomination of Sevil Shhaideh for prime minister Tuesday, putting an end to the hopes she may become the first woman and Muslim to hold the position. In a televised address, Iohannis said he “carefully weighed arguments for and against” accepting the center-left Social Democratic Party’s (PSD) nominee, and called on the party to make a new nomination. He did not offer a reason for blocking Shhaideh’s appointment. PSD rejected the decision, and Liviu Dragnea, the party’s leader, said it would consider seeking the president’s suspension. Though the leader of the county’s largest party customarily serves as prime minister, Dragnea is disqualified because he is serving a two-year suspension for having committed electoral fraud in a previous election. Shhaideh, who is of Turkish ancestry, was nominated for the premiership last week, having previously served as minister of regional development for five months in the last PSD-led government.
The death of Carrie Fisher, the Star Wars actress who drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra, brought an outpouring of condolences from costars, who remembered her as a friend and groundbreaking actress. Lucasfilm, now owned by Disney, said Fisher’s role had inspired a generation of young girls. The film’s many leads were played by men, but as Princess Leia, Fisher did not rely on them to come to her defense—quite the opposite. Leia often led the charge against the movie’s many villains, commanding Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and troops of the Rebel Alliance. Her role “defined the female hero of our age over a generation ago,” the Lucasfilm statement read. Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, tweeted:
Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vader, tweeted his condolences, as did Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO. Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, called Fisher the “the brightest light in every room she entered.” And Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian, said “the force is dark today!” Harrison Ford, who played Solo, her onscreen love interest, called Fisher “emotionally fearless” and said she “lived her life bravely.”
Carrie Fisher, the iconic actress best known for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars, died Tuesday. She was 60. Fisher suffered a heart attack on a flight between London and Los Angeles on Friday. A medical professional on board performed CPR on the plane. Fisher was rushed to a hospital shortly after landing. She died four days later in the hospital. In a statement Tuesday, Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, said, “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.” Fisher reprised her Star Wars role for the latest reboot The Force Awakens, which was released last year. She was expected to appear in the next Star Wars movie, slated to come out in 2017. Throughout her career, Fisher has had notable roles in When Harry Met Sally… and The Blues Brothers, appearing in nearly 50 films and dozens of other television shows. She was also a renowned script rewriter, working on films like Sister Act and Hook. Born in California in 1956, Fisher had long struggled with bipolar disorder and drug addiction, which she spoke openly about in recent years. “I am mentally ill,” she once said. “I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.” She was celebrated as a champion for mental health awareness. Read more about Fisher here.
Police in India arrested four men on Monday who are accused of drugging and raping a U.S. tourist who visited the country last year. The woman said she’d visited New Delhi, the country’s capital, in April and stayed at a five-star hotel in the Connaught Place neighborhood. She accused the four men, three of whom work at the hotel, of spiking her water and raping her for two days in her hotel room. The woman left India with no memory of the assault, she said, but three months after she’d returned to the U.S. she was able to recall the rape and filed a complaint through a U.S. nonprofit. The accused men are all between 20 and 24 years old. They deny the charges, and police had initially refused to arrest them because of a lack of video or eyewitness evidence. The woman’s testimony before a magistrate, however, seemed enough, and officers have confiscated the men’s phones for further investigation. Police in India have faced criticism that they don’t do enough to investigate rape cases, and in recent years the country has seen several cases of sexual assault receive international attention. There have also been several rape cases involving female tourists, like that of a Japanese woman last month, and of a Danish woman in 2014, for which five men were sentenced to prison.
First Trial Begins for Police Officers Accused in Turkey Coup
The first criminal trial in Istanbul related to last summer’s failed coup in Turkey started Tuesday, with 29 police officers facing sentences of up to life in prison. The officers face charges ranging from overthrowing the constitutional order to membership in a terrorist organization. They are accused of refusing to protect President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s mansion in Istanbul, which they allegedly did at the orders of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a charge Gulen denies. The courthouse in Istanbul was under heavy guard Tuesday. At the trial’s opening, prosecutors said the coup plotters used an app to secretly communicate their plans, including how some should condemn the coup publicly in order to avoid detection. The crackdown on alleged coup followers has grown to 40,000 suspects, with more than 100,000 others who have lost their jobs. Western nations and human-rights groups have criticized Erdogan’s crackdown, which has included professors, journalists, and anyone critical of his government.
UPDATE: Japan's Prime Minister Makes Historic Visit to Pearl Harbor
Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic visit Tuesday to the USS Arizona Memorial. “I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls who lost their lives here,” said Abe, who was accompanied by President Obama, at the site of the deadly Japanese attack that prompted the U.S. entry into World War II. The visit would have been unthinkable even last year when Abe visited the U.S. because the issue is a sensitive one in Japan where the legacy of the nation’s wartime actions remain a divisive issue. But earlier this year, Obama became the first U.S. president in office to visit Hiroshima, the Japanese city whose bombing with a nuclear weapon by the U.S. led to Japan’s surrender in the war, easing some of the domestic opposition to Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor.
The flight recorder of the military transport plane that crashed Sunday with 92 people on board has been recovered from the Black Sea and returned to Russia where investigators will determine what caused the Tu-154 aircraft to crash. The plane was carrying 64 member of the Alexandrov military music ensemble, a famed Russian choir, that was due to perform a concert in Latakia, Syria. Terrorism has been all but ruled out as a cause for the crash that is believed to have killed everyone on board. So far, about a dozen bodies have been recovered.
The handover of power was a solemn affair. There was no mistaking the new administration for the old one.
At dawn this morning, workers loaded couches and tables into a moving truck parked outside the West Wing. Men wearing white coveralls and carrying roller brushes and paint cans walked across the north driveway. Inside the White House, pictures of the 45th president had been removed from the walls. Only the hooks remained, ready for a new set of portraits of the 46th.
A lone Donald Trump press deputy, Judd Deere, sat in his small office, writing a note on a piece of stationery to whomever would be taking over his desk in a few hours. Deere was attempting to describe what it’s like to work in the building. When I looked in at noon, after the Trump presidency had officially ended, he was gone, his desk cleared. Even the magazine racks hanging on the wall had been emptied.
Three particular failures secure Trump’s status as the worst chief executive ever to hold the office.
President Donald Trump has long exulted in superlatives. The first. The best. The most. The greatest. “No president has ever done what I’ve done,” he boasts. “No president has ever even come close,” he says. But as his four years in office draw to an end, there’s only one title to which he can lay claim: Donald Trump is the worst president America has ever had.
In December 2019, he became the third president to be impeached. Last week, Trump entered a category all his own, becoming the first president to be impeached twice. But impeachment, which depends in part on the makeup of Congress, is not the most objective standard. What does being the worst president actually mean? And is there even any value, at the bitter end of a bad presidency, in spending energy on judging a pageant of failed presidencies?
I’ve been thinking about Barbara Tuchman’s medieval history, A Distant Mirror, over the past couple of weeks. The book is a masterful work of anti-romance, a cold-eyed look at how generations of aristocrats and royalty waged one of the longest wars in recorded history, all while claiming the mantle of a benevolent God. The disabusing begins early. In the introduction, Tuchman examines the ideal of chivalry and finds, beneath the poetry and codes of honor, little more than myth and delusion.
Knights “were supposed, in theory, to serve as defenders of the Faith, upholders of justice, champions of the oppressed,” Tuchman writes. “In practice, they were themselves the oppressors, and by the 14th century, the violence and lawlessness of men of the sword had become a major agency of disorder.”
The new president must not repeat Obama's mistakes.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1932, the nation was facing concentric crises: the immediate, house-on-fire disaster of rolling bank closures; the broader economic depression; and, beyond that, deeply entrenched problems that the depression had highlighted, including elderly poverty. Roosevelt’s first 100 days addressed the first two crises with historic directness. He reopened the banks and directly employed thousands of Americans through measures such as the Civilian Conservation Corps. Then, near the end of his first term, he signed the Social Security Act, which has reduced senior poverty and become one of the most popular federal programs in the United States.
President Joe Biden also faces concentric crises, which move outward toward the future as you unpeel them: the biological threat of the pandemic, the economic recession, and, beyond that, the entrenched problem of child poverty. He also has to contend with the problem casting a shadow over the whole century, the existential crisis of climate change.
What should have been a week-long celebration of the resilience of American democracy has turned into a dark circus. Instead of citizens lining Pennsylvania Avenue to cheer and greet a new president, all of downtown Washington, D.C., is an armed camp. Soldiers patrol the streets while workers clean excrement off the walls of the Capitol, a perfect tableau for the end of the short and ghastly age of Trump.
We are expecting far too much of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris if we think they can fix all of the damage Donald Trump did to the republic. Presidents and vice presidents are not wizards. They cannot rewind history. They cannot single-handedly make us better people.
However, I do believe that Biden can inspire the American people to regain one of the most important virtues Trump destroyed: seriousness, our understanding that ideas, actions, and words matter.
The quiet in the streets of D.C. today was a fitting end to the noisiest political era many Americans can remember.
Donald Trump’s presidency concluded not with mutiny in state capitals or an attempted attack on his successor, but with a calm, conventional ceremony in an otherwise quiet city.
Walking through Washington, D.C., today, the silence in the streets was the sound of a country not quite ready to exhale. It was a fitting end to the noisiest era of American politics that many Americans can remember.
If this had been a normal Inauguration Day, in a normal year, the National Mall would have been covered with hundreds of thousands of shivering people hoping to catch a glimpse of the new president. The streets of the capital would have been packed with out-of-towners ready to pay $25 a head to visit the Spy Museum, and lining up at sidewalk vendors’ tables to buy Kamala Harris–themed merch. But the only civilians I saw downtown during the ceremony were a few committed joggers and a clutch of Joe Biden supporters lingering outside the White House. The showing was so small that journalists seemed to outnumber the revelers; I watched as reporters interviewed the same handful of attendees, over and over again.
Trump leaves behind a wounded nation, and it will take time to heal.
So what if he was bad at it?
The five years of the Trump era—which began with his descent down the gilded escalator in Trump Tower in 2015 and are ending with a massive military presence in the nation’s capital to protect the transfer of power to his successor—brought a sustained assault on self-government. This assault was most often futile, almost always buffoonish, and, as the conversion of the seat of the federal government into an armed fortress demonstrates, unquestionably real.
Throughout the Trump era, some have argued that Trump’s incompetence rendered his authoritarian aspirations inconsequential.
“Our weak, ranting, infected-by-Covid chief executive is not plotting a coup, because a term like ‘plotting’ implies capabilities that he conspicuously lacks,” wrote the New York Times columnist Ross Douthat in October, describing the president as a “noisy weakling.” Douthat has since re-evaluated his position, but for a long time he was the most articulate proponent of the argument that Trump was not as dangerous as his opponents believed.
In Washington, D.C. today, Joe Biden took the oath of office shortly before noon, becoming the 46th president of the United States of America. In front of a small, socially distanced, and well-guarded audience on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in. The singers Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks performed; the poet Amanda Gorman gave a reading; and Biden delivered his inaugural address to the nation. Gathered below are scenes from a unique moment in American history.
Trump’s pardons sent an unmistakable message, capping the corruption of his tenure in office.
“Drain the swamp.”
Of all Trump’s lies, that was one of the most puzzling. It’s not just that Trump himself was and is crooked, or even that he so obviously likes and admires crooks. It’s that Trump’s particular form of crookedness was exactly the kind of crookedness that people have in mind when they imagine Washington, D.C., as a “swamp.”
Trump’s first Manhattan real-estate deal—the first deal on which his employer-father allowed him to take the lead—was the redevelopment of a bankrupt historic hotel near New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The deal needed complex permissions from the city and the state. To obtain those permissions, Trump hired the famous fixer Roy Cohn. Cohn secured him a $400 million tax abatement plus other special favors, including a waiver of all urban-preservation rules. After the deal was done, the city official who bestowed the favors was hired as a partner in Cohn’s law firm. A decade later, that official went to federal prison for corruption crimes.
Hopefully one day, getting vaccinated will mean you no longer need a mask. But not yet.
Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, James Hamblin takes questions from readers about health-related curiosities, concerns, and obsessions. Have one? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Dr. Hamblin,
I’m still confused about what our lives will be like after we are vaccinated. As I understand it, it will still be possible to get the virus, but hopefully the course won’t be as severe or life-threatening. And we are going to have people who won’t even get the vaccine. Do you foresee us still wearing masks for the next year or two? I hate to even type this question.
New London, New Hampshire
I can’t wait to stop wearing masks. I want to go out without a mask so badly that I’ve been dreaming about it. That’s how far the pandemic has lowered the ambitions of my dreams.