—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.
Something fundamental has changed about the ways Americans vote.
As polling places closed on November 6, 2018, the expected “blue wave” looked more like a ripple. Not only had some of the highest-profile Democratic candidates lost, but the party’s gains in the House and the Senate looked smaller than anticipated.
The wave, it turned out, simply hadn’t crested yet. Over the ensuing weeks, as more ballots were counted, Democrats kept winning races—eventually netting 41 House seats. In Arizona, the Republican Martha McSally conceded the Senate race to the Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who picked up more than 70,000 votes in post–Election Day counting. Democrats narrowed deficits in races in Florida and Georgia too. Republicans were stunned.
The rumors began with a video depicting a black-clad figure in the group’s signature Guy Fawkes mask. “Greetings, citizens of the United States,” the figure said in a creepy, distorted voice. “This is a message from Anonymous to the Minneapolis Police Department.” The masked announcer addressed Floyd’s killing and the larger pattern of police misconduct, concluding, “We will be exposing your many crimes to the world. We are legion. Expect us.”
The clip generated a wave of renewed enthusiasm for Anonymous, particularly among young people. Twitter accounts associated with the group saw a surge of new followers, a couple of them by the millions.
Saudi leaders have figured out what makes the president tick like few others have.
The joke, a throwaway quip, somehow captured the man and the moment—the end of one era, and the beginning of another. It was January 2017, and then–British Prime Minister Theresa May was in the White House, the first foreign leader to visit the new president of the United States, Donald Trump. For May, the trip had gone well: Pleasantries had been exchanged, faux pas avoided, commitments to NATO and the special relationship gleaned. Then came the press conference.
“Mr. President,” the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, called on by May, began, “you’ve said before that torture works; you’ve praised Russia; you’ve said you want to ban some Muslims from coming to America; you’ve suggested there should be punishment for abortion. For many people in Britain, those sound like alarming beliefs. What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and are worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?” A momentary silence followed. Smiling, Trump turned to his guest: “This was your choice of a question?” The room burst into laughter. Then came the punch line: “There goes that relationship.”
The ads are everywhere. You can learn to serve like Serena Williams or write like Margaret Atwood. But what MasterClass really delivers is something altogether different.
Image above, clockwise from top left: MasterClass instructors Serena Williams (who teaches tennis on the platform); Natalie Portman (acting); Gordon Ramsay (cooking); Malcolm Gladwell (writing)
Sometimes an advertisement is so perfectly tailored to a cultural moment that it casts that moment into stark relief, which is how I felt upon first seeing an ad for the mega-best-selling writer James Patterson’s course on MasterClass a few years ago. In the ad, Patterson is sitting at a table, reciting a twisty opening line in voice-over. Then an overhead shot of him gazing out a window, lost in thought like a character in a movie. A title card appears: “Imagine taking a writing class from a master.” It didn’t matter that I’d never read a book by Patterson before—I was hooked. What appealed to me was not whatever actionable thriller-writing tips I might glean, but rather the promise of his story, the story of how a writer becomes a mogul. Any hapless, hand-to-mouth mid-lister can provide instructions on outlining a novel. MasterClass dangled something else, a clear-cut path out of the precariat, the magic-bean shortcut to a fairy-tale ending—the secret to ever-elusive success.
A conversation with Ariel Sabar about the stranger-than-fiction story of a Harvard professor, a con artist, and a papyrus fragment that made front-page news
At a September 2012 academic conference in Rome, Karen King, a historian at Harvard Divinity School, made a major announcement. She had discovered a fragment of papyrus that bore a shocking phrase: “Jesus said to them, My wife.” If the scrap was authentic, it had the potential to upend centuries of Roman Catholic tradition.
The journalist Ariel Sabar covered King’s 2012 presentation for Smithsonian magazine, and revisited the mystery of the papyrus’s origins in a 2016 article for The Atlantic, “The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife,” in which he tracked down the owner of the papyrus—a man whose identity King adamantly refused to share with the press. Could this man have forged the explosive text? Was King’s discovery too good to be true?
In attacking her record on crime policy, her critics are ignoring how politics actually works.
The racial-justice movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd has had two quite different effects on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. It has intensified the pressure on Biden to choose a Black woman as his running mate. And it has also intensified the pressure on him to choose a running mate with a history of challenging police brutality. Those two political imperatives are now colliding in the debate over whether Biden should pick Senator Kamala Harris—a former prosecutor whom some progressives in California have characterized as too deferential to police.
Biden had previously vowed to choose a female running mate, and the typical vice-presidential pick is a senator or governor. Harris is the sole Black woman in either category. In one sense, therefore, she clearly benefits from the new political reality that the Black Lives Matter movement has created. But that new political reality has also amplified criticism from progressives. In yesterday’s New York Times, the reporters Danny Hakim, Stephanie Saul, and Richard A. Oppel Jr. quoted David Campos, a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who argues that when Harris “had the opportunity to do something about police accountability” as the city’s district attorney, “she was either not visible, or when she was, she was on the wrong side.” Criticisms like these, the Times notes, have led progressives to ask: “Is Ms. Harris essentially a political pragmatist, or has she in fact changed?”
A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.
How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.
In the first half of 2020, SARS‑CoV‑2—the new coronavirus behind the disease COVID‑19—infected 10 million people around the world and killed about half a million.
The electorate is split into separate information bubbles. But unconventional messengers, appeals to patriotism, and even jokes can reach voters who don’t want to listen.
A few weeks ago, I went to a political rally in a farmyard. The Polish presidential candidate Rafał Trzaskowski was speaking; in the background, a golden wheat field shimmered in the late-afternoon sun. The audience was enthusiastic—the host, a local farmer, had spread news of the candidate’s visit only the day before—but the juxtaposition of Trzaskowski and the wheat field was odd. He is the mayor of Warsaw, speaks several languages, has degrees in economics, and belongs to the half of Poland that identifies as educated, urban, and European. What does he know from wheat?
But Trzaskowski was running for president in a country whose other half lives in an information bubble that teaches people to be suspicious of anyone from Warsaw who is educated, urban, and European. Polish state television, fully controlled by the ruling Law and Justice party, was sending aggressive messages into that bubble, warning its inhabitants that Trzaskowski was dubious, foreign, in hock to “LGBT ideology”—which the incumbent president, Andrzej Duda, called “worse than communism”—and beholden to Germans and Jews. The messages, constantly repeated on a wide array of radio stations and television channels, were designed to reinforce tribal loyalties and convince Law and Justice voters that they are “real” Poles, not impostors or traitors like their political opponents.
American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase.
If you were an adherent, no one would be able to tell. You would look like any other American. You could be a mother, picking leftovers off your toddler’s plate. You could be the young man in headphones across the street. You could be a bookkeeper, a dentist, a grandmother icing cupcakes in her kitchen. You may well have an affiliation with an evangelical church. But you are hard to identify just from the way you look—which is good, because someday soon dark forces may try to track you down. You understand this sounds crazy, but you don’t care. You know that a small group of manipulators, operating in the shadows, pull the planet’s strings. You know that they are powerful enough to abuse children without fear of retribution. You know that the mainstream media are their handmaidens, in partnership with Hillary Clinton and the secretive denizens of the deep state. You know that only Donald Trump stands between you and a damned and ravaged world.
No matter what happens now, the virus will continue to circulate around the world.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has sickened more than 16.5 million people across six continents. It is raging in countries that never contained the virus. It is resurgingin manyof the ones that did. If there was ever a time when this coronavirus could be contained, it has probably passed. One outcome is now looking almost certain: This virus is never going away.
The coronavirus is simply too widespread and too transmissible. The most likely scenario, experts say, is that the pandemic ends at some point—because enough people have been either infected or vaccinated—but the virus continues to circulate in lower levels around the globe. Cases will wax and wane over time. Outbreaks will pop up here and there. Even when a much-anticipated vaccine arrives, it is likely to only suppress but never completely eradicate the virus. (For context, consider that vaccines exist for more than a dozen human viruses but only one, smallpox, has ever been eradicated from the planet, and that took 15 years of immense global coordination.) We will probably be living with this virus for the rest of our lives.