U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton sentenced Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, two former top associates of Governor Chris Christie, to prison time for their role in the “Bridgegate” scandal. Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, received 24 months, along with a year of probation, 500 hours of community service, fines and restitution. Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. A jury in Newark, New Jersey, found them guilty last November of all charges. As I wrote at the time:
Baroni … and Kelly were indicted [in 2015] on nine counts of conspiracy and fraud in connection with the scheme in 2013 to close lanes on a section of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, New Jersey, over the refusal of its Democratic mayor to endorse Christie, a Republican, for re-election. …
Federal prosecutors’ main witness in the six-week trial was David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority who admitted to masterminding the plan. The jury also heard testimony from more than 30 other witnesses, including Baroni and Kelly. Federal prosecutors alleged Christie was aware of the actions of his aides.
Christie, a close associate of President Trump, consistently denied any knowledge or involvement in the lane closures, and hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.
Kelly and Baroni will remain free while they appeal their convictions.
Iraqi Forces Battle ISIS in Mosul as Concerns Over Civilian Casualties Persist
Iraqi forces are battling ISIS militants in western Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city that was captured by the Islamic State in 2014. Here’s more from Reuters today on the state of the fighting: “The close-quarters fighting is focused on the Old City surrounding the [ al-Nuri] mosque where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate nearly three years ago across territory controlled by the group in both Iraq and Syria.” Thousands of civilians are trapped in the city, and as the fighting rages, their position is fraught. Indeed, as we reported yesterday, the Pentagon is investigating the March 17 coalition airstrike in Mosul that may have led to the collapse of buildings with at least 160 people inside. “It is very possible that Daesh blew up that building to blame it on the coalition in order to cause a delay in the offensive into Mosul and cause a delay in the use of coalition airstrikes,” General Mark A. Milley, the U.S. army chief of staff, told reporters Monday in Baghdad. “And it is possible the coalition airstrike did it.” But Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the senior coalition commander in Iraq, said: “My initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties.”
Bob Dylan to Accept Nobel Prize This Weekend, Swedish Academy Says
Bob Dylan will accept his Nobel Prize for Literature this weekend, a member of the Swedish Academy, the body that awards the prize, has said in a blog entry. The academy announced last October that Dylan had won the prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” But the famously reclusive singer did not acknowledge the award or indicate whether he would accept it until two weeks after the announcement, telling a British newspaper he would attend the ceremony “if it’s all possible.” Ultimately, he did not—but he did send a speech in which he said the prize “is something I never could have imagined or seen coming.” Which brings us to today’s blog post by Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy. She said:
The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet this weekend. The Academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel Prize in Literature. The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the Academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.
The U.K.’s envoy to the European Union has hand-delivered a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to the office of European Council president in Brussels, invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and formally beginning the process of talks over the U.K.’s separation from the European Union. The move comes nine months after Britons voted 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU, a decision that shocked the political establishment, and sparked a rancorous debate in the U.K. on what a future U.K.-EU relationship should look like. It’s the nature of that relationship that talks between the U.K. and the EU will focus on. The process will take two years, during which time the U.K. remains a full member of the bloc. Those who campaigned to keep the U.K. in the EU want a future relationship to be similar to the one the country enjoyed with full EU membership, but the main sticking point, access to the EU single market, depends on the free movement of the EU’s citizens across the bloc—an aspect of membership deeply unpopular in the U.K. Linda Kintsler wrote yesterday about what happens next. Read it here.
For female television reporters, the decision to have kids can be a career-ending one.
It was the only time I had cried in front of one of my bosses at CBS News.
As we sat in my office, door closed, I was struggling to explain why I was uncertain whether to sign a new three-year contract with the network. Yes, I could stay on as a general-assignment correspondent, but that would mean being ready and willing to leave town at a moment’s notice to cover whatever breaking news was unfolding. I wanted to be a team player, and I hated saying no to assignments, but that kind of role wasn’t compatible with my life at home, where I had a very young son, a husband with a demanding job, and, while I didn’t know it at the time, another baby on the way.
The time spent away from my kid had to feel like it was worth the sacrifice. So I decided to ask for a sort of role that would recognize my value and professional ambitions while also providing me some small measure of predictability over my schedule. I thought my asks were minimal; I’d been “leaning in” for 15 years in the news business. Yet during negotiations, I was basically told I wasn’t “there yet” and I should have been happy that I had been offered a new contract at all. Even as my manager told me that she was sympathetic to the struggles of a working mother (being a mother herself), she reiterated that the offer was final.
Robert Mueller is closing in on the president and all his men.
Federal prosecutors filed three briefs late on Friday portending grave danger for three men: the former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, the former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, and President Donald Trump. In an age when Americans usually get mere squibs of breaking news from Twitter, Facebook, and red-faced cable shouters, many started their weekend poring over complex legal filings and peering suspiciously at blacked-out paragraphs. The documents were stunning, even for 2018.
In brief No. 1, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office argues that Paul Manafort breached his cooperation agreement with the government by lying to the FBI and the Special Counsel’s Office in the course of 12 meetings. The brief oozes a level of confidence notable even among professionally hubristic prosecutors: Mueller says he’s ready to present witnesses and documents, and that he gave Manafort’s lawyers an opportunity to refute the evidence but they could not. Mueller is sure he has the receipts.
At a certain point, another million dollars doesn’t make anything newly affordable. That’s when other motivations take over.
As the number of millionaires and billionaires in the world climbsever higher, there are a growing number of people who possess more money than they could ever reasonably spend on even the lushest goods.
But at a certain level of wealth, the next million isn’t going to suddenly revolutionize their lifestyle. What drives people, once they’ve reached that point, to keep pursuing more?
There are some good explanations, I found, after talking to a few people who’ve spent significant amounts of time in the presence of and/or researching the really, really rich. Michael Norton, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied the connections between happiness and wealth, had a particularly elegant model for understanding this pattern of behavior.
The transcript from Friday’s closed-door hearing was made public late Saturday, and it confirms that Mueller is pursuing a possible obstruction-of-justice case against the president.
The band got back together on Friday. For five hours, members of the House of Representatives peppered former FBI Director James Comey with questions. All the greatest hits were there: Hillary Clinton’s private email server; the tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and then–Attorney General Loretta Lynch; the affair between the FBI agent Peter Strzok and the FBI attorney Lisa Page, and the anti-Trump texts they’d shared; and, of course, the salacious Steele dossier.
Because this show had no live audience, but also because Comey had resisted an entirely closed hearing, a 235-page transcript of the hearing was released late Saturday. And that’s where the twists came in. At one point, for example, an FBI official accompanying Comey confirmed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is pursuing a possible obstruction-of-justice case against the president.
Mueller says that the former Trump campaign chairman repeatedly lied about his interactions with Konstantin Kilimnik, a man with ties to Russian intelligence.
In the Collected Works of Robert Mueller, there are Russian names that come and go. But there’s only one of these figures who provides a recurring presence in this oeuvre. He is a diminutive man, whom Mueller has called an “asset” of Russian intelligence. His presence is either the sort of distracting irrelevance that Alfred Hitchcock described as a MacGuffin, or he is the shadowy character who steps into the frame to foreshadow an ominous return.
Konstantin Kilimnik trained in Russian military intelligence as a linguist; he spent decades by Paul Manafort’s side, serving as a translator and then rising through the ranks of his organization. Eventually, Manafort would come to describe Kilimnik—also known as K.K. or Kostya—as “My Russian Brain.” He would travel with Manafort to Moscow to meet with their client, the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. When Kostya worked with Americans, they suspected him as some sort of spook. (Last June, I wrote this profile of him.)
The alleged creation of the world's first gene-edited infants was full of technical errors and ethical blunders. Here are the 15 most damning details.
Updated on December 4 at 10:55 a.m. ET.
Before last week, few people had heard the name He Jiankui. But on November 25, the young Chinese researcher became the center of a global firestorm when it emerged that he had allegedly made the first CRISPR-edited babies, twin girls named Lulu and Nana. Antonio Regalado broke the story for MIT Technology Review, and He himself described the experiment at an international gene-editing summit in Hong Kong. After his talk, He revealed that another early pregnancy is under way.
It is still unclear if He did what he claims to have done. Nonetheless, the reaction was swift and negative. The CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna says she was “horrified,” NIH Director Francis Collins said the experiment was “profoundly disturbing,” and even Julian Savulescu, an ethicist who has described gene-editing research as “a moral necessity,” described He’s work as “monstrous.”
The new and returning series that stood out the most
Trying to pick the best television series of 2018 is a bit like trying to judge a cuteness contest in a zoo: There’s way too much to choose from, and very little of it looks alike. How to compare, say, a peerless drama about repressed Edwardian England with a satirical animated comedy about an anthropomorphized, alcoholic horse actor? Or a thoughtful, in-depth documentary series about inequality in a Chicago-area high school with a bleakly comic fable about America’s nastiest and most overprivileged media dynasty?
Television’s current abundance means not just a laundry list of new quality shows each month, but also new styles and techniques with which TV creators are pushing the limits of the form. With that in mind, this list of the best series of 2018 tries to recognize things that TV has done exceptionally well this year, from complex and dynamic female characters to empathetic cringe comedy to experimental modes of storytelling, and everything that comes in between.
The movie Mudbound helped me train for a half marathon last year. I watched it on a treadmill and it made me so angry that I didn’t even think about the tightness in my shins and hamstrings; it distracted me from the grueling workout.
Mudbound is a tender and compelling story of black pain that’s set in the Mississippi Delta during World War II. The overarching theme—which is what enraged me—was sadly familiar: White people belittling, dehumanizing, and violently attacking black folks with impunity. Meanwhile, the black people have no choice but to act benevolently toward whites for fear of more punishment. It states in the white-supremacy handbook that those brutalized by racism must be virtuous in the face of indignity—because it would be inhumane to be impolite to racists.
“I honestly just wanted to know why the F train didn’t have clocks. I never expected it to be so complicated.”
There are people who stand every morning outside the Carroll Street station in Brooklyn staring dead-eyed into the middle distance. They stand still in ones and twos, clearly strangers to one another, mostly quiet, as though they’d stopped on their way to work to take note of some spectacular disaster in the sky. But you look in the general direction they’re all looking and there’s nothing there.
They are, as it turns out, waiting for the F train. Carroll Street is one of the rare New York subway stations whose trains are boarded underground but where you can stand outside to see them coming. When you spot the F rolling down the bridge, you have just enough time to run inside to catch it. So people stand there waiting. They wait for as long as it takes, for as long as their patience will allow, because in 2015 there is no app, no screen, not even a scratchy voice over a PA system that can tell them when the train is actually going to arrive.