—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.
Among the more practical advice that can be offered to international travelers is wisdom of the bathroom. So let me say, as someone who recently returned from China, that you should be prepared to one, carry your own toilet paper and two, practice your squat.
I do not mean those goofy chairless sits you see at the gym. No, toned glutes will not save you here. I mean the deep squat, where you plop your butt down as far as it can go while staying aloft and balanced on the heels. This position—in contrast to deep squatting on your toes as most Americans naturally attempt instead—is so stable that people in China can hold it for minutes and perhaps even hours ...
Congressional Republicans and conservative pundits had the chance to signal Trump his attacks on law enforcement are unacceptable—but they sent the opposite message.
President Trump raged at his TV on Sunday morning. And yet on balance, he had a pretty good weekend. He got a measure of revenge upon the hated FBI, firing former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe two days before his pension vested. He successfully coerced his balky attorney general, Jeff Sessions, into speeding up the FBI’s processes to enable the firing before McCabe’s retirement date.
Beyond this vindictive fun for the president, he achieved something politically important. The Trump administration is offering a not very convincing story about the McCabe firing. It is insisting that the decision was taken internally by the Department of Justice, and that the president’s repeated and emphatic demands—public and private—had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Invented centuries ago in France, the bidet has never taken off in the States. That might be changing.
“It’s been completely Americanized!” my host declares proudly. “The bidet is gone!” In my time as a travel editor, this scenario has become common when touring improvements to hotels and resorts around the world. My heart sinks when I hear it. To me, this doesn’t feel like progress, but prejudice.
Americans seem especially baffled by these basins. Even seasoned American travelers are unsure of their purpose: One globe-trotter asked me, “Why do the bathrooms in this hotel have both toilets and urinals?” And even if they understand the bidet’s function, Americans often fail to see its appeal. Attempts to popularize the bidet in the United States have failed before, but recent efforts continue—and perhaps they might even succeed in bringing this Old World device to new backsides.
The first female speaker of the House has become the most effective congressional leader of modern times—and, not coincidentally, the most vilified.
Last May, TheWashington Post’s James Hohmann noted “an uncovered dynamic” that helped explain the GOP’s failure to repeal Obamacare. Three current Democratic House members had opposed the Affordable Care Act when it first passed. Twelve Democratic House members represent districts that Donald Trump won. Yet none voted for repeal. The “uncovered dynamic,” Hohmann suggested, was Nancy Pelosi’s skill at keeping her party in line.
She’s been keeping it in line for more than a decade. In 2005, George W. Bush launched his second presidential term with an aggressive push to partially privatize Social Security. For nine months, Republicans demanded that Democrats admit the retirement system was in crisis and offer their own program to change it. Pelosi refused. Democratic members of Congress hosted more than 1,000 town-hall meetings to rally opposition to privatization. That fall, Republicans backed down, and Bush’s second term never recovered.
As the Trump presidency approaches a troubling tipping point, it’s time to find the right term for what’s happening to democracy.
Here is something that, even on its own, is astonishing: The president of the United States demanded the firing of the former FBI deputy director, a career civil servant, after tormenting him both publicly and privately—and it worked.
The American public still doesn’t know in any detail what Andrew McCabe, who was dismissed late Friday night, is supposed to have done. But citizens can see exactly what Donald Trump did to McCabe. And the president’s actions are corroding the independence that a healthy constitutional democracy needs in its law enforcement and intelligence apparatus.
McCabe’s firing is part of a pattern. It follows the summary removal of the previous FBI director and comes amid Trump’s repeated threats to fire the attorney general, the deputy attorney, and the special counsel who is investigating him and his associates. McCabe’s ouster unfolded against a chaotic political backdrop which includes Trump’s repeated calls for investigations of his political opponents, demands of loyalty from senior law enforcement officials, and declarations that the job of those officials is to protect him from investigation.
Although the former secretary of state’s contentious relationship with the president didn’t help matters, Tillerson’s management style left a department in disarray.
Rex Tillerson is hardly the first person to be targeted in a tweet from Donald Trump, but on Tuesday morning, he became the first Cabinet official to be fired by one. It was an ignominious end to Tillerson’s 13-month stint as secretary of state, a tenure that would have been undistinguished if it weren’t so entirely destructive.
Compared with expectations for other members of Trump’s Cabinet, the disastrous results of Tillerson’s time in office are somewhat surprising. Unlike the EPA’s Scott Pruitt, Tillerson did not have obvious antipathy for the department he headed; unlike HUD’s Ben Carson, he had professional experience that was relevant to the job; and unlike Education’s Betsy DeVos, his confirmation hearing wasn't a disaster.
How evangelicals, once culturally confident, became an anxious minority seeking political protection from the least traditionally religious president in living memory
One of the most extraordinary things about our current politics—really, one of the most extraordinary developments of recent political history—is the loyal adherence of religious conservatives to Donald Trump. The president won four-fifths of the votes of white evangelical Christians. This was a higher level of support than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, an outspoken evangelical himself, ever received.
Trump’s background and beliefs could hardly be more incompatible with traditional Christian models of life and leadership. Trump’s past political stances (he once supported the right to partial-birth abortion), his character (he has bragged about sexually assaulting women), and even his language (he introduced the words pussy and shithole into presidential discourse) would more naturally lead religious conservatives toward exorcism than alliance. This is a man who has cruelly publicized his infidelities, made disturbing sexual comments about his elder daughter, and boasted about the size of his penis on the debate stage. His lawyer reportedly arranged a $130,000 payment to a porn star to dissuade her from disclosing an alleged affair. Yet religious conservatives who once blanched at PG-13 public standards now yawn at such NC-17 maneuvers. We are a long way from The Book of Virtues.
Scholars have been sounding the alarm about data-harvesting firms for nearly a decade. The latest Cambridge Analytica scandal shows it may be too late to stop them.
On Friday night, Facebook suspended the account of Cambridge Analytica, the political-data company backed by the billionaire Robert Mercer that consulted on both the Brexit and Trump campaigns.
The action came just before The Guardian and The New York Timesdropped major reports in which the whistle-blower Christopher Wylie alleged that Cambridge Analytica had used data that an academic had allegedly improperly exfiltrated from the social network. These new stories, backed by Wylie’s account and internal documents, followed years of reporting by The Guardianand The Intercept about the possible problem.
The details could seem Byzantine. Aleksandr Kogan, then a Cambridge academic, founded a company, Global Science Research, and immediately took on a major client, Strategic Communication Laboratories, which eventually gave birth to Cambridge Analytica. (Steve Bannon, an adviser to the company and a former senior adviser to Trump, reportedly picked the name.)
A new six-part Netflix documentary is a stunning dive into a utopian religious community in Oregon that descended into darkness.
To describe Wild Wild Country as jaw-dropping is to understate the number of times my mouth gaped while watching the series, a six-part Netflix documentary about a religious community in Oregon in the 1980s. It’s ostensibly the story of how a group led by the dynamic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh purchased 64,000 acres of land in central Oregon in a bid to build its own utopian city. But, as the series immediately reveals, the narrative becomes darker and stranger than you might ever imagine. It’s a tale that mines the weirdness of the counterculture in the ’70s and ’80s, the age-old conflict between rural Americans and free love–preaching cityfolk, and the emotional vacuum that compels people to interpret a bearded mystic as something akin to a god.
It’s not that they can’t consider other people’s perspectives. It’s that they don’t do so automatically.
It’s a rare person who goes out of their way to spend time with psychopaths, and a rarer one still who repeatedly calls a prison to do so. But after more than a year of meetings and negotiation, Arielle Baskin-Sommers from Yale University finally persuaded a maximum-security prison in Connecticut to let her work with their inmates, and to study those with psychopathic tendencies.
Psychopaths, by definition, have problems understanding the emotions of other people, which partly explains why they are so selfish, why they so callously disregard the welfare of others, and why they commit violent crimes at up to three times the rate of other people.
But curiously, they seem to have no difficulty in understanding what other people think, want, or believe—the skill variously known as perspective-taking, mentalizing, or theory of mind. “Their behavior seems to suggest that they don’t consider the thoughts of others,” says Baskin-Sommers, but their performance on experiments suggests otherwise. When they hear a story and are asked to explicitly say what a character is thinking, they can.