—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 Hollywood still hiring this raging anti-Semite?
Every day, as dawn’s rosy fingers reach through my window, I arise and check in with Twitter, to see what fresh hell awaits. Generally, by about 6:30, I’ve been made furious by the outrage du jour. But recently, I experienced more of a sense of bemusement than ire, as I took in Deadline’s headline: “Mel Gibson in Talks to Direct Lethal Weapon 5.”
Gibson is a well-known Jew-hater (anti-Semite is too mild). His prejudices are well documented. So my question is, what does a guy have to do these days to get put on Hollywood’s no-fly list? I’m a character actor. I tend to take the jobs that come my way. But—and this hurts to write—you couldn’t pay me enough to work with Mel Gibson.
Now, I love the Lethal Weapon movies (at least the first few). And Danny Glover’s a gem. But Gibson? Yes, he’s a talented man. Many horrible people produce wonderful art. Put me down as an ardent fan of Roald Dahl, Pablo Picasso, and Edith Wharton; can’t get enough of what they’re selling. But these three had the good taste to die. That makes it a lot easier to enjoy their output. Gibson lives. And Tinseltown need not employ him further.
What Peter Jackson’s Get Back reveals about the Beatles breakup
What is happening to the Beatles? Whose idea was this? What is going on? It’s January 1969, and look at them: stuck on a soundstage in Twickenham Film Studios—the Beatles!—sitting around like a bunch of YouTubers, idly generating content. They burble; they dawdle; they pick up their instruments and put them down again. They are of the ’60s and they are above the ’60s. “I think your beard suits you … man,” George says to Paul. Planes of shifting color light up the white screens behind them, viridescent splodges and blooms of moody fuchsia, as if they’re trapped at the end of a rainbow. Everybody’s watching, everybody’s listening: nosy cameras, nudging mics, cables and crew members all over the place.
A new, highly contagious variant could have terrible consequences. But if it ends up causing milder symptoms than Delta, there’s a real upside.
World, meet Omicron; Omicron, meet a lot of people who are very, very anxious to know more about you.
The arrival of the newest coronavirus variant, first identified in Botswana and South Africa and now present in the United States, might be bad news, or it might be terrible news—or maybe it’s just a temporary distraction from Delta. Ultimately, Omicron’s effect on the course of the pandemic will be determined by three factors: its transmissibility; the degree to which it evades our existing immune defenses; and its virulence, or the severity of the disease that it causes. If Omicron turns out to jump between hosts with ease, blow past our neutralizing antibodies, and cause unusually dangerous complications, we’ll all be in deep trouble. But it could also turn out to do a lot of other things, with more subtle implications. If Omicron ends up being super contagious, for example, but mild in its symptoms, that might even be a good thing—a perfect variant, just in time for Christmas.
The Humans turns a difficult Thanksgiving dinner into something grotesque.
The Humans features no ghosts, monsters, or poltergeists. It’s not set inside a haunted house, an abandoned building, or a tract of shadowy woods. And yet, it might be the scariest movie of the year.
Based on Stephen Karam’s Tony-winning play, and adapted and directed by Karam himself, The Humans centers on the Blake family as they gather in lower Manhattan for a Thanksgiving dinner. The mood is about as warm as a broken oven. Deirdre (Jayne Houdyshell, brilliantly reprising her role from the play) and Erik (Richard Jenkins) have driven hours to visit their younger daughter, Brigid (Beanie Feldstein), at her new apartment, where she lives with her boyfriend, Richard (Steven Yeun)—but all they’ve gotten for their journey are terse thank-yous and cheap champagne in plastic cups. Aimee (Amy Schumer), their older daughter, is still reeling from a recent breakup and career setbacks, while Momo (June Squibb), Erik’s mother, has dementia and must be cared for at all times. The setting doesn’t help: Brigid and Richard’s home is a thin-walled, claustrophobia-inducing space that lets in barely any natural light. Each family member has something to get off his or her chest, and it’s as if their collective dread has permeated the foreboding premises. Or is it the reverse?
“Tragic optimism” is the search for meaning during the inevitable tragedies of human existence, and is better for us than avoiding darkness and trying to “stay positive.”
Countless books have been written on the “power of gratitude” and the importance of counting your blessings, but that sentiment may feel like cold comfort during the coronavirus pandemic, when blessings have often seemed scant. Refusing to look at life’s darkness and avoiding uncomfortable experiences can be detrimental to mental health. This “toxic positivity” is ultimately a denial of reality. Telling someone to “stay positive” in the middle of a global crisis is missing out on an opportunity for growth, not to mention likely to backfire and only make them feel worse. As the gratitude researcher Robert Emmons of UC Davis writes, “To deny that life has its share of disappointments, frustrations, losses, hurts, setbacks, and sadness would be unrealistic and untenable. Life is suffering. No amount of positive thinking exercises will change this truth.”
Sometimes, dips in immunization quality can be rescued with a little extra quantity.
If it doesn’t happen with this variant, it’ll happen with the next one, or maybe the next. Some version of this coronavirus is bound to flummox our vaccines. In the past two years, SARS-CoV-2 has hopscotched across the globe, rejiggering its genome to better coexist with us. The latest coronavirus contender, Omicron, has more than 50 mutations, making it the most heavily altered coronavirus variant of concern that researchers have identified to date. Even in the fully vaccinated, at least a few antibodies will likely be stumped, and at least a few cells infected. Our collective defenses may soon bear an Omicron-shaped dent.
But immunity isn’t a binary switch that some party-crashing variant can flip off. Even if a wily virus erodes some of the safeguards that our original-flavor vaccines have raised, it’s nearly impossible for a variant to wipe them away completely. “I don’t think we’re ever going to go back to square one of having no immunity against this virus,” Rishi Goel, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told me. Defenses, if they drop, should fall stepwise, not all at once: first against infection, then transmission and mild symptoms, and finally the severest disease. And vaccinated immune systems are extraordinarily stubborn about letting those last fortifications go.
Conservatives on the Supreme Court have engineered a system that allows half the country’s population to be stripped of a fundamental constitutional right.
Women’s constitutional right to decide whether to bear children appears to be hanging by a thread. At yesterday’s oral argument in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed justices displayed an eagerness to overturn Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent that prevents states from banning abortion. This is no surprise—the conservative legal movement fought a decades-long political battle to achieve just this objective. The case, which will decide the constitutionality of Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, offers a clear opportunity to do so.
I should caution that the back-and-forth of arguments before the Court can be deceiving. The Obama administration’s difficulty arguing its case in favor of the Affordable Care Act led observers to declare it would be struck down—that didn’t happen. An oral argument can be a preview of how the justices will rule, but it is not always, and so the decision in this case remains unknown until it is handed down. That said, conservative activists had not spent decades attempting to strike down Obamacare. Ending legal abortion in America, though, has long been the main goal of the conservative legal movement.
People want the company to be a pandemic crystal ball. It’s not.
It was the best of pelotimes, it was the worst of pelotimes.
If the graph of Peloton’s stock-price fluctuations were the blueprint for a new roller coaster, it would be a terrifying ride for anyone brave enough to strap in. The line undulates with disasters: Since the fitness-tech company went public in late 2019, it has weathered a virally bad holiday ad campaign, pandemic delivery delays so extensive that it bought up tons of pricey cargo-plane space, and a recall of one of its treadmills following dozens of injuries and the death of a child.
Between those precipitous drops, the company had a better pandemic than nearly all other businesses on the planet. With gyms closed, Peloton’s stock price skyrocketed alongside sales of its spin bikes and treadmills, increasing more than eightfold from March to December 2020. By August 2021, the company had 2.3 million users paying nearly $40 a month to take classes on its “connected fitness” products—more than quadruple the number it reported two years prior. But the highs and lows have continued apace: Peloton’s stock tanked in November after the company reported quarterly sales far below its own expectations and slashed annual-revenue projections. As more people return to gyms, new signups have slowed and existing members are taking fewer classes. TheWall Street Journal gave the phenomenon a name: Peloton fatigue. (Peloton declined to comment for this story.)
Every year thousands of Americans die on the roads. Individuals take the blame for systemic problems.
More than 20,000 people died on American roadways from January to June, the highest total for the first half of any year since 2006. U.S. road fatalities have risen by more than 10 percent over the past decade, even as they have fallen across most of the developed world. In the European Union, whose population is one-third larger than America’s, traffic deaths dropped by 36 percent between 2010 and 2020, to 18,800. That downward trend is no accident: European regulators have pushed carmakers to build vehicles that are safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and governments regularly adjust road designs after a crash to reduce the likelihood of recurrence.
But in the United States, the responsibility for road safety largely falls on the individual sitting behind the wheel, or riding a bike, or crossing the street. American transportation departments, law-enforcement agencies, and news outlets frequently maintain that most crashes—indeed, 94 percent of them, according to the most widely circulated statistic—are solely due to human error. Blaming the bad decisions of road users implies that nobody else could have prevented them. That enables car companies to deflect attention from their decisions to add heft and height to the SUVs and trucks that make up an ever-larger portion of vehicle sales, and it allows traffic engineers to escape scrutiny for dangerous street designs.
The preponderance of the evidence suggests that social media is causing real damage to adolescents.
Social media gets blamed for many of America’s ills, including the polarization of our politics and the erosion of truth itself. But proving that harms have occurred to all of society is hard. Far easier to show is the damage to a specific class of people: adolescent girls, whose rates of depression, anxiety, and self-injury surged in the early 2010s, as social-media platforms proliferated and expanded. Much more than for boys, adolescence typically heightens girls’ self-consciousness about their changing body and amplifies insecurities about where they fit in their social network. Social media—particularly Instagram, which displaces other forms of interaction among teens, puts the size of their friend group on public display, and subjects their physical appearance to the hard metrics of likes and comment counts—takes the worst parts of middle school and glossy women’s magazines and intensifies them.