Russian and Turkish authorities are investigating the shooting death of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey by an off-duty Turkish police officer. Andrey Karlov, who had served in the job since 2013, was delivering a speech at a photo exhibition in Ankara on Monday when a man shot him in apparent protest of Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. The gunman, identified as 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, was later shot and killed by police.
We’re following the news of the assassination here. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Turkish police on Monday questioned the family of the gunman, 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, who was shot and killed by police after his attack, the BBC reported Tuesday. Altintas was a member of Ankara’s riot police squad, but was not on duty at the time of the shooting. More from the BBC, citing Turkey’s interior minister:
He said Altintas was born on 24 June 1994 in in the town of Soke in quiet, conservative Aydin province in western Turkey, and attended police college in the coastal city of Izmir to the north.
He had been working in Ankara's riot police department for two-and-a-half years but was apparently on leave at the time of his attack.
… Altintas shaved and put on a suit and tie in a nearby hotel he was staying at prior to Monday's attack.
He set off a metal detector on entering the exhibition, but was waved through after showing his official police ID.
After shooting the ambassador, Altintas waved and pointed his gun at people inside the gallery, and shouted in Arabic and Turkish. He yelled “Allahu Akbar” several times, and said, “Don't forget about Syria, don’t forget about Aleppo. All those who participate in this tyranny will be held accountable.” The shooting came after days of protests in Turkey against Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war and the bombardment of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Altintas fired 11 times, nine at the ambassador and twice in the air, according to the BBC. Three others were injured in the attack.
The body of Andrey Karlov was transported from Turkey to Russia Tuesday after a ceremony at the Esenboga airport in Ankara. Karlov’s coffin, draped in the Russian flag, was carried by soldiers on the tarmac. Photos from the ceremony showed his wife, Marina, touching the top of the coffin before it was placed on a plane bound for Moscow.
Trump Blames Turkey Attack on 'Radical Islamic Terrorist'
President-elect Donald Trump blamed the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on “a radical Islamic terrorist.”
His statement read in full:
Today we offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, who was assassinated by a radical Islamic terrorist. The murder of an ambassador is a violation of all rules of civilized order and must be universally condemned.
The shooter, who was identified as an Ankara police officer, yelled, “We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad,” in Arabic at the shooting. Statements from the White House and other countries, though, did not mention Islam. The shooter was killed by police in a standoff.
The presidents of Russia and Turkey said Thursday the fatal shooting of the Russian ambassador to Turkey was a “provocation” intended to hurt the two country’s ties, the AP reports.
In televised remarks, Vladimir Putin described the shooting as a “provocation aimed at derailing Russia-Turkey ties and the peace process in Syria.” Russia supports the Assad government in the Syrian civil war. Russia and Turkey are engaged in talks over the evacuation of civilians from the Syrian city of Aleppo, which has been under constant bombardment for months.
In a video message aired on Turkish TV channels, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the shooting was “a provocation to damage the normalization process of Turkish-Russian relations.”
The White House offered its support to both countries in a statement Thursday. “This heinous attack on a member of the diplomatic corps is unacceptable, and we stand united with Russia and Turkey in our determination to confront terrorism in all of its forms,” said a National Security Council spokesman.
Shooting Follows Days of Turkish Protests Over Syrian War
The shooting of the Russian ambassador comes after a week of protests in Turkey against Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. On Saturday, crowds gathered near Turkey’s border with Syria chanted, “Murderer Russia, get out of Syria!” and demanded for all sides to allow humanitarian workers access to the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo. The evacuation of thousands of civilians in Aleppo began last week, after the Syrian government wrested control of most of the city from rebel groups, which have held it for four years. The Syrian government, with support from Russia, has bombed all of the city’s hospitals, and residents are low on food and other basic supplies. Humanitarian groups have pleaded to allow for short breaks in the fighting so residents can escape. About 4,500 people were evacuated Monday, bringing the total since last week to 12,000.
AP photographer Burhan Ozbilici was at the photo gallery Monday when gunfire broke out. He continued taking photos after Andrey Karlov was struck and capturing the assailant, who brandished his gun and shouted about the Syrian conflict. “Don’t forget Syria!” he can be heard saying. The gunman was later fatally shot by police. He has not been publicly identified. The AP reports he was a policeman, citing Turkey’s interior ministry.
Andrey Karlov served as Moscow’s ambassador to Ankara since July 2013, but his diplomatic career spanned four decades. The 62-year-old joined the diplomatic service in 1976, serving in Russia’s embassies in both Pyongyang and Seoul. Karlov served as the Russian ambassador to North Korea between 2001 and 2006 before returning to Moscow to head the foreign ministry’s consular affairs department in 2007. He is survived by his wife and son.
Andrey Karlov was delivering a speech at the opening of a photo exhibition in Ankara on Monday when shots rang out. Video footage from the speech and published by Russian media shows the ambassador falling down after being struck. A man dressed in a black suit appears in the frame, holding a gun and shouting. The gunman was shot and killed by police, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV. Karlov was transported to the hospital.
Here’s more on the scene from the AP, according to one of their photographers, who was there:
The ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition in the capital, Ankara, when a man wearing a suit and tie shouted "Allahu Akbar" and fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience. The attacker also said some words in Russian and smashed several of the photos hung for the exhibition.
The Supreme Court vacancy will surely inflame an already-angry nation.
Updated on September 18, 2020, at 8:47 p.m. ET.
A furious battle over a Supreme Court vacancy is arguably the last thing the United States needs right now.
The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today represents a devastating loss for feminists who held up the 87-year-old as an icon of women’s rights, and as a bulwark protecting abortion rights and a wide range of other progressive ideals on a conservative Supreme Court. The Brooklyn-born jurist became one of the nation’s foremost advocates against gender discrimination as a lawyer for the ACLU, decades before President Bill Clinton appointed her to be the second woman to sit on the high court.
But her passing less than two months before the presidential election also tosses one more lit match into the tinderbox of national politics in 2020: It will surely inflame a deeply polarized country already riven by a deadly pandemic, a steep economic downturn, and civil unrest in its major cities.
Changing voters’ minds is famously difficult, but a recent progressive effort found real success.
No state has haunted the Democratic Party’s imagination for the past four years like Wisconsin. While it was not the only state that killed Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes in 2016, it was the one where the knife plunged deepest. Clinton was so confident about Wisconsin that she never even campaigned there. This year, it is one of the most fiercely contested states. The Democrats planned to hold their convention in Milwaukee, before the coronavirus pandemic forced its cancellation. Donald Trump is also making a strong play for Wisconsin.
Trump’s weaknesses with the electorate are familiar: Voters find him coarse, and they deplore his handling of race, the coronavirus, and protests. One recent YouGov poll found that just 42 percent of Americans approved of his performance as president, while 54 percent disapproved. But when the pollsters asked about Trump’s handling of the economy, those attitudes reversed: 48 percent approved and 44 percent disapproved, despite the havoc wreaked by the pandemic.
The coming months of the pandemic could be catastrophic. The U.S. still has ways to prepare.
On April 13, Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on the Today show and assured viewers that the worst was nearly behind us. It had been a month since the last gathering of fans in an NBA arena; a month since the fateful week when Americans began panic-buying bottled water and canned beans. The segment’s host, Savannah Guthrie, was broadcasting from home in upstate New York. With the light of a makeshift camera reflecting in her glasses, she asked Redfield to address reports that we could be facing another three weeks of social distancing. “We are nearing the peak right now,” Redfield told her. “Clearly we are stabilizing in terms of the state of this outbreak.”
Climate change is killing Americans and destroying the country’s physical infrastructure.
The federal government spends roughly $700 billion a year on the military. It spends perhaps $15 billion a year trying to understand and stop climate change.
I thought about those numbers a lot last week, as I tried to stop my toddler from playing in ash, tried to calm down my dogs as they paced and panted in mid-morning dusk light, tried to figure out whether my air purifier was actually protecting my lungs, tried to understand why the sky was pumpkin-colored, and tried not to think about the carcinogen risk of breathing in wildfire smoke, week after week.
The government has committed to defending us and our allies against foreign enemies. Yet when it comes to the single biggest existential threat we collectively face—the one that threatens to make much of the planet uninhabitable, starve millions, and incite violent conflicts around the world—it has chosen to do near-nothing. Worse than that, the federal government continues to subsidize and promote fossil fuels, and with them the destruction of our planetary home. Climate hell is here. We cannot stand it. And we cannot afford it either.
The kitschy celebrations of the justice have always insisted, in their way, that the personal is judicial.
In 2014, Kate Livingston created a quirky Halloween costume for her 12-week-old son. It featured a black, sleeved onesie. And a white silken collar. And a pair of large, plastic-rimmed glasses. Livingston snapped a picture of the cosplaying infant—he provided the cool scowl—and then added a caption, in blunt all-caps, to the photo she took: “I DISSENT.” Ruth Baby Ginsburg was born.
Justices of the Supreme Court have traditionally existed above the fray. They wear body-obscuring black robes, stay stoic at the State of the Union address, and prioritize a long-view approach to human events. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died today at age 87, changed that model, because Ruth Bader Ginsburg lived within the fray: Particularly in her later years, she was a justice who was also a celebrity. There was Notorious RBG, the meme and the Tumblr and the book. There was On the Basis of Sex, the 2018 biopic telling the story of Ginsburg’s early years as a professor and a litigator. There was RBG, the documentary. There were Kate McKinnon’s swaggering impressions on Saturday Night Live (“You’ve been Ginsburned!”). And there was the array of RBG-themed goods: the prayer candles, the dolls, the coloring books, the jewelry. There are the collections of RBG-inspired collars. Hers is a visible fandom.
The press hasn’t broken its most destructive habits when it comes to covering Donald Trump.
We’re seeing a huge error, and a potential tragedy, unfold in real time.
That’s a sentence that could apply to countless aspects of economic, medical, governmental, and environmental life at the moment. What I have in mind, though, is the almost unbelievable failure of much of the press to respond to the realities of the Trump age.
Many of our most influential editors and reporters are acting as if the rules that prevailed under previous American presidents are still in effect. But this president is different; the rules are different; and if it doesn’t adapt, fast, the press will stand as yet another institution that failed in a moment of crucial pressure.
In some important ways, media outlets are repeating the mistake made by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. In his book about the Mueller investigation, True Crimes and Misdemeanors (and in a New Yorker article), Jeffrey Toobin argues that Mueller’s tragic flaw was a kind of anachronistic idealism—which had the same effect as naivete. Mueller knew the ethical standards he would maintain for himself and insist on from his team. He didn’t understand that the people he was dealing with thought standards were for chumps. Mueller didn’t imagine that a sitting attorney general would intentionally misrepresent his report, which is of course what Bill Barr did. Mueller wanted to avoid an unseemly showdown, or the appearance of a “fishing expedition” inquiry, that would come from seeking a grand-jury subpoena for Donald Trump’s testimony, so he never spoke with Trump under oath, or at all. Trump, Barr, and their team viewed this decorousness as a sign of weakness, which they could exploit.
The Senate majority leader’s assertion that his election-year blockade of Merrick Garland doesn’t apply to 2020 shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Anyone who thought Mitch McConnell was going to give up a prized Supreme Court seat purely for the sake of appearances hasn’t been paying attention.
With four words and a proud smile, the Senate majority leader this week confirmed what those who have watched him closely have long understood to be true: If a vacancy on the high court occurs in the election year of 2020, the Republican majority that McConnell leads would vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee. “Oh, we’d fill it,” McConnell said in response to a what-if question about the Supreme Court during an appearance in his home state of Kentucky.
McConnell’s assertion is likely to come as worrisome, if unsurprising, news to liberals who fear for the health of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 86-year-old justice who has no plans to retire but who has endured multiple falls and cancer scares in the past decade. It also serves as a reminder to Democrats musing about eliminating the legislative filibuster that the same option could be open to Republicans, and the Senate leader they’re hoping to topple is never shy about making full use of the powers of his position—even those he has previously dismissed.
A new biography squares the decorous legal figure with the feminist gladiator.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not just having a “moment” in American feminist culture. She has rapidly become—in a time that craves heroines—the American ideal of power and authority for millions of women and girls. Beyond the movies (RBG, released in May, and On the Basis of Sex, out in December) and the biographies, not to mention the memes and T-shirts and mugs that proliferate like lace-collared mushrooms, Ginsburg at 85 is also the closest thing America has to the consummate anti–Donald Trump. Today, more than ever, women starved for models of female influence, authenticity, dignity, and voice hold up an octogenarian justice as the embodiment of hope for an empowered future.
Millions of coronavirus tests may be happening without their results being made public.
President Donald Trump has never hidden his ambivalence about testing for the coronavirus. In June, when he told an arena of supporters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that he had instructed “his people” to “‘slow the testing down, please,’” the disclosure prompted one of the more dire news cycles of the pandemic. The president said repeatedly that he wanted the United States to reduce its testing. But in the weeks that followed, testing increased.
Not so now. In the past month, the number of tests conducted in the United States has actually drifted down—and that may be partly because of Trump-administration policy.
The United States now reports about 100,000 fewer daily tests than it did in late July, according to the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. Some of this decline is due to reduced demand: The surge of infections across the South and West has subsided, and when fewer people are sick, fewer people seek out tests. Yet this cannot explain all of it. In the Midwest, the number of confirmed cases is growing faster than the number of tests, which has been a sign of a growing outbreak throughout the pandemic.
Some of the year’s best new movies are about American soul-searching.
David Byrne has long been a master of perfectly designed worlds. The 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, with his band Talking Heads, captured how carefully he stages his shows, bringing in band members one by one to emphasize how each contributes to the harmonies of a song. Byrne’s latest tour, “American Utopia,” was documented by Spike Lee in a film of the same name, due out October 17 on HBO. In it, Byrne again tries to construct a new musical universe, making jolly music and dancing in lockstep with shoeless artists in natty gray suits. But as the film’s title suggests, he wants to create a better world beyond the concert venue too.
American Utopia was the opening-night feature at this month’s Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off the fall movie season every year with big premieres and awards-friendly projects. Thanks to the coronavirus and the general hibernation of the industry, TIFF screened just 50 new films this year (compared with more than 300 in 2019). But even in its compact form, the festival offered a preview of what moviegoers can expect in the next few months as Hollywood navigates the pandemic. Given that the United States is in the midst of a fraught election season, it’s unsurprising that some of the most compelling new films confront the idealistic notion of America—and how promises of progress and justice are so often blunted by the grim realities of racism, poverty, and polarization.