—Five people are dead and 37 were injured after someone opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. More here
—An unclassified assessment released Friday by the U.S. intelligence community says Russian President Vladimir “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” More here
—We’re live-blogging the news stories of the day below. All updates are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5).
Just hours after he received an intelligence briefing on the influence of Russian hacking on the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump refuses to say that Russia was responsible. Instead, he’s blaming the Democratic National Committee for allowing themselves to get hacked.
Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place.The Republican National Committee had strong defense!
WikiLeaks Wants to Create a Database of Verified Twitter Users' Hacked Information
WikiLeaks is considering making an online database of verified Twitter accounts that would include sensitive personal information, the hacking organization said Friday. The group published hacked Democratic National Committee emails. Russian hackers are suspected of leaking the emails in an attempt to sway the U.S. presidential election. In this proposed database, WikiLeaks would provide information on a user’s family, job, finances, political party membership, and housing status. In a follow-up tweet, the group, which is led by Julian Assange, asked its online following for guidance on additional hacking.
We are looking for clear discrete (father/shareholding/party membership) variables that can be put into our AI software. Other suggestions?
Such a database could be dangerous and used for political retribution to the group’s opponents in media, politics, or other organizations. In a statement, Twitter warned, “Posting another person’s private and confidential information is a violation of the Twitter Rules.”
Turkey dismissed an additional 6,000 public workers Friday, as the country continues its crackdown in the months after a failed coup last July. Among the workers are 2,700 police officers, 1,700 justice ministry officials, 838 health ministry officials, and 630 academics who leaders believe played a role in the coup or have ties to Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes orchestrated the putsch. Gulen, who lived in self-exile in Pennsylvania, has denied any role. The Turkish parliament voted this week to extend the country’s state of emergency by another three months, which allows the government to usurp rights and freedoms. Turkey has already suspended or dismissed 120,000 public workers, and jailed 41,000. Meanwhile, the Turkish people are still reeling from a New Year’s Day attack at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people, for which ISIS claimed responsibility, and a carb bomb explosion that killed two people in Izmir on Thursday, which has been blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
The Four Suspects in the Chicago Live-Streamed Beating Appear in Court
A Chicago judge on Friday denied bail for the four suspects accused of beating a mentally disabled man and streaming it on Facebook Live, telling them: “Where was your sense of decency?" The four are charged with hate crimes, aggravated kidnapping, and battery, among other charges. Video of the attack that was live-streamed online shows four black suspects assault the victim, who is white, and shout, “fuck white people” as they hit him. The suspects appeared in court Friday before Cook County Associate Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil, who listened to prosecutors say one of the suspects had demanded $300 from the victim's mother, and that the suspects forced the man to kiss the floor, drink toilet water, and stuffed a sock into his mouth. Authorities say the victim suffers from schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder.
Intelligence Assessment Says Russia 'Aspired to Help' Trump in Election
An unclassified assessment released Friday by the U.S. intelligence community says Russian President Vladimir “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” The report, which can be found here, was released the same day President-elect Donald Trump received his own intelligence briefing on the Russian activities during the election. Trump, in a statement, said the hacking by “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups, and people” had no “effect on the outcome of the election.” Russia has denied it tried to interfere in the election.
It’s finally official: Donald Trump has won the presidential election.
Media outlets announced Trump’s victory weeks ago in November. But Congress counted and certified the Electoral College votes on Friday, a time-honored tradition that takes place only after electors have formally cast their votes. Along the way, Trump’s opponents hoped in vain the results of the election might be overturned. A small group of electors attempted to instigate an Electoral College revolt aimed at keeping Trump out of the White House, but that effort ultimately failed. The Electoral College formally selected Trump as the winner of the election in December.
And there were a few failed attempts at resistance on Friday. USA Todayreports:
Several Democratic House members raised formal objections to the Electoral College results, but they did not have the backing of any senators — a requirement for being considered. Vice President Biden, who presided over the session, repeatedly slammed the gavel on debate, saying the objections could not be entertained.
"It is over," Biden said as Republicans applauded.
Congress officially certified the election of Mike Pence to become vice president on Friday as well. Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States will take place on January 20th in Washington, D.C. The final electoral college vote tally certified by Congress stands at 304 votes for Trump to 227 votes for Hillary Clinton.
UPDATE: 5 Dead in Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting
Five people are dead and eight taken to hospital after at least one gunman opened fire at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. A gunman is in custody, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said. The airport said there was “an ongoing incident in Terminal 2, Baggage Claim.” Here’s our live-blog of the shooting.
Tilikum, the Orca That Inspired the Documentary 'Blackfish,' Dies
Tilikum, the SeaWorld orca that was the subject of the documentary Blackfish, died Friday of a persistent lung infection, SeaWorld announced. Tilikum’s role in the 2013 documentary and his life story triggered an anti-captivity backlash against SeaWorld that is still being felt. He was captured from the waters near Iceland when he was young, and transferred to SeaWorld Orlando in 1992. He became one of the park’s largest whales at six tons, and gained a reputation for being dangerous after a man who had snuck into the park for a swim in his tank was found dead, and again in 2010 after he was blamed for battering and drowning orca-trainer Dawn Brancheau. After these incidents, SeaWorld kept Tilikum separate from other orcas, though he was made to perform for paying customers practically until his death. The story of Tilikum’s life told by Blackfish resonated so profoundly with people that SeaWorld is still trying to recover from the image it painted of whale captivity. The marine tourist park has suffered financially, hired a new chief executive officer, and announced last year it would phase out its orca program.
Japan Recalls Envoy to South Korea Over Statue of Comfort Woman
Japan temporarily recalled Yasumasa Nagamine, its ambassador to South Korea, Friday in protest of a statue commemorating Korean women forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II. It’s estimated that between 20,000 to 200,000 women—commonly known as “comfort women”—were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during that period. Japan called for an immediate removal of the statue, which was displayed last week by a civic group outside its consulate in the South Korean city of Busan, and announced it would also suspend on-going talks with South Korea on resuming a bilateral currency-swap agreement. South Korea expressed “strong regret” over Japan’s decision. A similar statue was placed outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul in 2011; it too was criticized by the Japanese. The issue continues to be one of the thorniest between the two countries despite an accord reached in December 2015, in which Japan offered a formal apology and agreed to pay about $8.3 million to establish a fund for surviving “comfort women.”
Next week Norway will become the first country in the world to drop its FM radio network. The move is widely unpopular in Norway, but is being closely watched by other European nations. FM will be replaced by digital audio broadcasting (DAB), which is said to have clearer sound and signal, and is already being broadcast in Norway. DAB also allows for eight times as many stations as FM for the same cost. The problem is that more than 2 million cars in Norway don’t have DAB receivers, nor do many homes. The devices are also more expensive. Only 17 percent of Norwegians support the switch, while the rest are undecided. All FM broadcasts are scheduled to shut off by the end of the year. Switzerland plans to make the switch to DAB in 2020. Britain and Denmark have also said they’ll drop FM, though neither has set a firm deadline.
U.S. Adds 156,000 Jobs in December; Jobless Rate at 4.7 Percent
The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs last month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday, and the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.7 percent. Economists had expected the economy to add about 175,000 jobs. The slight increase of the jobless rate was attributed to a more people in the labor force. Wage rose 2.9 percent from December 2015. The report, the last of President Obama’s tenure, shows an economy on solid footing as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House. Bloombergadds: “The latest payrolls tally brought the advance for 2016 to 2.16 million, after a gain of about 2.7 million in 2015. The streak of gains above 2 million is the longest since 1999, when Bill Clinton was president.” Full report here.
Russia Withdraws Aircraft Carrier From Syria as Part of Partial Drawdown
Russia announced Friday it was beginning a gradual drawdown of its military presence in Syria, starting with the departure of Admiral Kuznetsov, the aircraft carrier. The announcement comes just days after Russia and Turkey announced a ceasefire between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebels opposed to his rule. Assad, bolstered by military support from Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, the Shia militant group from Lebanon, recaptured eastern Aleppo, the last major rebel stronghold, last month. The Syrian leader is now more firmly in charge of the country than at any point since the civil war began. The ceasefire announced by Russia and Turkey is largely holding, though it is fragile.
Why is President Trump badmouthing his attorney general, why doesn’t he just fire him, and what does he hope to accomplish by pushing him out?
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has spent much of his career making enemies. The Alabaman’s strident views have won him plenty of detractors, from civil-rights activists to fellow members of the Senate. But in Donald Trump, Sessions believed he had finally found a champion and fellow traveler. Instead, it seems Sessions has found his most formidable enemy yet.
Trump is now on his second consecutive day of publicly humiliating the attorney general on Twitter, following an interview with The New York Times last week in which he said he wished he’d never appointed Sessions. The attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from investigation into Russian interference in the election infuriated Trump, who has repeatedly tried to end the investigation, including by firing FBI Director James Comey. Instead, Comey’s firing resulted in the appointment of a special counsel to take the case. Here’s Trump’s latest broadside against Sessions:
“I hope that my story will help you understand the methods of Russian operatives in Washington and how they use U.S. enablers to achieve major foreign policy goals without disclosing those interests,” Browder writes.
The financier Bill Browder has emerged as an unlikely central player in the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Sergei Magnitsky, an attorney Browder hired to investigate official corruption, died in Russian custody in 2009. Congress subsequently imposed sanctions on the officials it held responsible for his death, passing the Magnitsky Act in 2012. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government retaliated, among other ways, by suspending American adoptions of Russian children.
Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who secured a meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, was engaged in a campaign for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act, and raised the subject of adoptions in that meeting. That’s put the spotlight back on Browder’s long campaign for Kremlin accountability, and against corruption—a campaign whose success has irritated Putin and those around him.
The Arizona senator delivered an impassioned critique of partisanship, haste, and win-at-all-costs legislation, just moments after casting a vote to debate a bill that exemplifies all three.
It was a day of contradictions for John McCain: Returning from his own sickbed, he flew into Washington to vote to open debate on a bill that could strip others of their coverage. Met with a standing ovation on the Senate floor, he was also denounced fiercely for his vote in favor of debate, which allowed the bill to move forward after Vice President Pence broke a 50-50 tie.
And then there was the speech he delivered immediately after the vote. It was a surreal moment: a stemwinder denouncing fight-for-every-inch gamesmanship, hasty procedures, closed-door wrangling, and legislation that puts partisan gain over helping citizens, delivered moments after McCain cast the deciding vote to forward a bill that embodied every one of those tendencies.
The president addressed the quadrennial gathering like a campaign rally—talking to a group devoted to service as if it valued self-interest.
Donald Trump continued his ongoing tour of cherished American institutions on Monday night, delivering yet another jarringly partisan speech to an apolitical audience—this one, comprising tens of thousands still too young to vote.
During the campaign, his performance at the Al Smith dinner—where presidential candidates roast their rivals and themselves every four years—devolved into overt attacks on his opponent. Shortly after his election, he stunned CIA employees by delivering a campaign-style stump speech before the agency’s Memorial Wall. On Saturday, he surprised the crowd of uniformed personnel at the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford by imploring them to lobby Congress in support of his agenda.
Surprise eggs and slime are at the center of an online realm that’s changing the way the experts think about human development.
Toddlers crave power. Too bad for them, they have none. Hence the tantrums and absurd demands. (No, I want this banana, not that one, which looks identical in every way but which you just started peeling and is therefore worthless to me now.)
They just want to be in charge! This desire for autonomy clarifies so much about the behavior of a very small human. It also begins to explain the popularity of YouTube among toddlers and preschoolers, several developmental psychologists told me.
If you don’t have a 3-year-old in your life, you may not be aware of YouTube Kids, an app that’s essentially a stripped-down version of the original video blogging site, with videos filtered by the target audience’s age. And because the mobile app is designed for use on a phone or tablet, kids can tap their way across a digital ecosystem populated by countless videos—all conceived with them in mind.
The internet’s favorite fact-checkers are caught in a messy dispute.
On Monday, the editorial staff of Snopes.com wrote a short plea for help. The post said that the site needed money to fund its operations because another company that Snopes had contracted with “continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage.”
“Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile,” the note continued.
It was a shocking message from a website that’s been around for more than 20 years—and that’s become a vital part of internet infrastructure in the #fakenews era. The site’s readers have responded. Already, more than $92,000 has been donated to a GoFundMe with a goal of $500,000.
There is plenty of reason to be confident that if ISIS could reliably and easily make a dirty bomb, they would do so.
In the last three years, I have not spent much time wondering whether ISIS has access to radioactive material. I know they have had access, because I had a hand in getting it to them.
In 2005, while working for an air cargo company in Mosul, I delivered a large wooden box, marked for consignment to the University of Mosul. To fly it in, we needed a special plane, an Antonov-12, whose cargo hold was cavernous compared to our usual 727s and DC-8s. The box contained, according to its air waybill, radiological imaging equipment for the university’s teaching hospital. The next day, workers from the hospital met me at my office, and I gently forklifted the crate into their truck. The load seemed off-balance, and I winced when I heard a corner of the box splinter as we strapped it down. But they drove away, and unless that million-dollar piece of medical equipment fell off the back of the truck and ended up strewn across the road, it probably made it safely to the hospital, where it was captured by ISIS nine years later.
Ninni Holmqvist’s 2009 book “The Unit,” newly reissued, imagines a world in which people who haven’t procreated are forced to make a different—ultimate—contribution to society.
“It was more comfortable than I could have imagined,” is how The Unit begins, with Dorrit, a single, impoverished 50-year-old woman picked up from her home in a metallic red SUV and transported to a luxury facility constructed by the government for people just like her. Her new, two-room apartment is bright and spacious, “tastefully decorated,” inside a complex that includes a theater, art studios, a cinema, a library, and gourmet restaurants. For the first time, Dorrit is surrounded by likeminded people and included rather than ostracized. At the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material, she’s one among a community of people who couldn’t—or didn’t want to—have children.
The cost is that, for the remaining four or five years of her life, Dorrit will be subjected to medical testing and will donate her organs one by one until her final, fatal donation. The Unit’s author, the Swedish writer Ninni Holmqvist, has imagined a society fixated on capital, but in human form. Those who have children or who work in fields like teaching and healthcare are seen as enabling growth; the childless and creative types like Dorrit, a writer, are deemed “dispensable,” removed, and forced to make their own biological contributions. The unit itself is a fantasy of government welfare for aging citizens (it offers delicious meals, culture, and companionship), but with a particularly sharp twist.
Partly, it’s simple rage. Mueller threatens Trump. And when Trump sees someone as a threat, he tries to discredit and destroy them—conventional norms of propriety, decency and legality be damned.
But there’s another, more calculated, reason. Trump and his advisors may genuinely believe that firing Mueller is a smart move. And if you put morality aside, and see the question in nakedly political terms, they may be right.
The chances that Mueller will uncover something damning seem very high. Trump has already admitted to firing former FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation. Donald Trump Jr. has already admitted to welcoming the opportunity to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from people he believed were representatives of the Russian government. Even if Mueller doesn’t accuse anyone of a crime, he’s likely to paint a brutal picture. And that’s just on the question of election collusion and obstruction of justice. If Mueller uses Russia to segue into Trump’s business dealings, who knows what he might find. An all-star team of legal and financial sleuths, with unlimited time and money, and the ability to subpoena documents and people, have been let loose on the affairs of a man whose own autobiographer called him a “sociopath.” No wonder Trump is scared.
Ask yourself, is all that wasted time really rewarding? And other tips from Charles Duhigg, who wrote the book on productivity.
Why is it that the more work I have to do, the more the internet beckons me into its endless maw of distraction? Oh Lord, I will say, appealing both to myself and to whatever blog-god might be listening, I have an hour to finish this article.
But first, isn’t this Tasty video fascinating? I’ve never thought about making buffalo-fried cheese nuggets before, but now that I’ve watched a pair of disembodied hands prepare them so expertly, I should definitely head over to Amazon and Prime me some buffalo sauce.
This is how I found myself, exhausted after leaving work at 8 p.m. one day recently, flopping onto my bed, still in my pencil skirt, and clicking open a horrific, traffic-mongering slideshow linked from the bottom of an article I was reading. It was about Stars Without Makeup or What Child Stars Look Like Now or some other rancid meat for my hungry lizard brain.