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 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?”
The extent of Oscar Health’s work on coronavirus testing hasn’t been previously reported.
On March 13, President Donald Trump promised Americans they would soon be able to access a new website that would ask them about their symptoms and direct them to nearby coronavirus testing sites. He said Google was helping.
That wasn’t true. But in the following days, Oscar Health—a health-insurance company closely connected to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner—developed a government website with the features the president had described. A team of Oscar engineers, project managers, and executives spent about five days building a stand-alone website at the government’s request, an Oscar spokesperson told The Atlantic. The company even dispatched two employees from New York to meet in person with federal officials in Washington, D.C., the spokesperson said. Then the website was suddenly and mysteriously scrapped.
China warned Italy. Italy warned us. We didn’t listen. Now the onus is on the rest of America to listen to New York.
In the emergency-department waiting room, 150 people worry about a fever. Some just want a test, others badly need medical treatment. Those not at the brink of death have to wait six, eight, 10 hours before they can see a doctor. Those admitted to the hospital might wait a full day for a bed.
I am an emergency-medicine doctor who practices in both Manhattan and Queens; at the moment, I’m in Queens. Normally, I love coming to work here, even though in the best of times, my co-residents and I take care of one of New York City’s most vulnerable, underinsured patient populations. Many have underlying illnesses and a language barrier, and lack primary care.
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 the 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.
Across the country, social distancing is morphing from a public-health to political act. The consequences could be disastrous.
For Geoff Frost, the first sign of the coronavirus culture war came last weekend on the golf course. His country club, located in an affluent suburb of Atlanta, had recently introduced a slew of new policies to encourage social distancing. The communal water jugs were gone, the restaurant was closed, and golfers had been asked to limit themselves to one person per cart. Frost, a 43-year-old Democrat, told me the club’s mix of younger liberals and older conservatives had always gotten along just fine—but the guidelines were proving divisive.
At the driving range, while Frost and his like-minded friends slathered on hand sanitizer and kept six feet apart, the white-haired Republicans seemed to delight in breaking the new rules. They made a show of shaking hands, and complained loudly about the “stupid hoax” being propagated by virus alarmists. When their tee times were up, they piled defiantly into golf carts, shoulder to shoulder, and sped off toward the first hole.
The president is transmuting his calamitous failures into political gold.
Donald Trump is presiding over one of the worst calamities to befall the nation in living memory, and anyone who has followed his response since the coronavirus morphed from a worrisome outbreak in a Chinese province into a global pandemic knows the truth: Trump’s response has been disastrous. It’s no wonder that just a couple of weeks ago, a writer in this magazine concluded that “the Trump presidency is over.”
It seemed reasonable, logical. But once the polls started coming in, it turned out the American public—at least for now—disagrees. Despite his well-documented incompetence and lies, Trump is now enjoying some of the highest approval ratings of his presidency. Even more baffling, a majority of Americans—as many as 60 percent in one poll—think he’s doing a good job tackling the crisis.
The dominant conservative philosophy for interpreting the Constitution has served its purpose, and scholars ought to develop a more moral framework.
In recent years, allegiance to the constitutional theory known as originalism has become all but mandatory for American legal conservatives. Every justice and almost every judge nominated by recent Republican administrations has pledged adherence to the faith. At the Federalist Society, the influential association of legal conservatives, speakers talk and think of little else. Even some luminaries of the left-liberal legal academy have moved away from speaking about “living constitutionalism,” “fundamental fairness,” and “evolving standards of decency,” and have instead justified their views in originalist terms. One often hears the catchphrase “We are all originalists now.”
Originalism comes in several varieties (baroque debates about key theoretical ideas rage among its proponents), but their common core is the view that constitutional meaning was fixed at the time of the Constitution’s enactment. This approach served legal conservatives well in the hostile environment in which originalism was first developed, and for some time afterward.
“This time of isolation could be a period of great growth or great struggle in your relationship.”
Humans have evolved with a drive to share life with a partner—just not all day long. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors on the savanna formed pair-bonds, but they parted in the morning to go about their separate tasks. So did our ancestors on the farm. For hundreds of thousands of years, even the most devoted couples have been uttering some version of that basic romantic principle: “I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch.”
So what happens now that spouses are staying home all day, and many unmarried couples suddenly find themselves quarantined together? The peril facing relationships quickly became obvious to the pioneers of this new intimacy on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where couples were cooped up for two weeks in their cabin during the ship’s quarantine. Ellis Vincent, a retired airline executive from Australia, told a reporter that he and his wife, Kimberly, were passing the time by having long conversations during which she displayed a remarkable memory.
President Trump’s targets have been Democratic leaders. But the outbreak isn’t going to stay confined to Democratic states.
It shouldn’t be all that remarkable when two leaders talk in a crisis. On Sunday morning, President Donald Trump got on the phone with Mayor Bill de Blasio to discuss what New York City needs to survive a white-hot outbreak that is only getting worse. De Blasio asked him to send more ventilators and military personnel, warning that in a week’s time, the health-care system could be overwhelmed.
Yet with these particular leaders at this particular point in history, it is remarkable. Until recently, de Blasio told me, none of his calls to the upper reaches of the White House were returned. Two weeks ago, the Democratic mayor said publicly that Trump was “betraying” his native city by not sending more life-saving medical equipment. Ever sensitive to criticism, Trump said, in turn: “I’m not dealing with him.”