Handle with care. At least 26 people were killed and dozens more injured at the San Pablito fireworks market in Tultepec, about 25 miles north of Mexico City, according to early reports from emergency personnel. Local television images showed a massive fireworks explosion as smoke rose above the market in a town where pyrotechnics are a major industry.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Witnesses say it came out of nowhere. Officials suspect a deliberate attack after a stolen Polish semi truck slammed into a Berlin Christmas market yesterday, killing 12 and injuring 48. Police have released an initial suspect with insufficient evidence, suggesting that the driver could still be at large. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who’s been under fire from Germany’s right for allowing refugees into the country, promised punishment for the perpetrators. Meanwhile, Swiss police say they’ve identified the body of a man who injured three worshipers in a shooting at a Zurich mosque.
The gunman shouted, “Don’t forget Syria!” Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot in the back yesterday by a lone attacker in Ankara, Turkey, while giving a speech at an art exhibition opening. Reports suggest that the gunman, who was killed by special forces, was Ankara riot police officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, 22. Protesters across Turkey have strongly condemned Russia’s role in the ongoing violence in Aleppo, as Turkish and Russian governments cooperate in the precarious ceasefire. But leaders Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan say the assassination won’t undermine their strengthening relationship.
There was no revolt. Despite angry protests and impassioned pleas citing suspected Russian interference in November’s election, the mogul crossed the 270-vote threshold yesterday afternoon when Texas put him across the electoral finish line. No avalanche of “faithless electors” appeared, though a handful broke ranks to lodge symbolic votes for people other than Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton, whose 2.9 million popular vote lead now becomes a mere historical footnote. A Jan. 6 joint session of Congress will certify Trump’s win, with his inauguration set for Jan. 20.
She’s sticking it out. The International Monetary Fund leader was convicted by a French court yesterday of negligence related to the misuse of public funds in 2008. But Lagarde, 60, won’t see jail time, financial penalties or even a criminal record. The IMF, which reappointed her in February for a five-year term, says it won’t seek new leadership. While some are hoping the group will appoint a non-European leader in the future, many have concluded that navigating Brexit and a potential Italian financial crisis requires Lagarde’s practiced hand.
Know This: China has returned an American underwater drone it seized Thursday. After massive public protest, Poland’s ruling party has scrapped controversial new restrictions on the media. And drug wholesalers reportedly shipped a shocking 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to West Virginia — a state of 1.84 million people — over the past six years, during which the state saw 1,728 fatal overdoses.
Read This: Ever wanted to open an English-language bookstore on a Greek island? Here’s a longread about the twenty-somethings who actually did.
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It’s not about the high. Artificially derived cannabis products can treat glaucoma and chronic pain without the trouble and expense of growing marijuana plants, which would shift the turf of clashes over medical pot. Now epilepsy drug Epidiolex is on the verge of federal approval, though it would require a long-awaited downgrade of marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug before it could be prescribed. While cannabis biotech is seeing a flood of investment, don’t expect products to bum-rush the market. Given how long FDA approvals take, backers will have to chill.
What happens in Vegas … is good for the environment. The desert metropolis has completed an eight-year project making it the largest American city to power all municipal property — streetlights, fire stations, parks and public buildings — entirely on renewable energy. Sin City took advantage of its unique desert location to pull it off, using Boulder Solar 1, a 100-megawatt solar plant outside the city. In the process, it reduced energy consumption by 30 percent and is due to save $5 million annually.
They’ve got that special something. A new Harvard study of 1.6 million Medicare hospital visits found that patients of female doctors do better than those treated by men, with elderly patients 4 percent less likely to die and 5 percent less likely to be re-admitted. The research claims 32,000 fewer Americans — among Medicare patients alone — would die every year if male doctors saw the same results as their female colleagues. Yet female physicians constitute just one-third of the workforce and average $19,879 lower salaries than their male counterparts.
Sometimes markets trump nationalism. Pakistani cinemas had seen their revenues cut in half since September, when they banned Bollywood films in response to Indian moviemakers refusing to work with Pakistani artists. The culture war is a side skirmish in the nuclear-armed neighbors’ long-simmering border dispute that broke out in bloodshed this year in the Kashmir region. Pakistani movie theater owners, who bring in 60 percent of their revenue from Bollywood films, had laid off about 2,000 employees — but hope their fortunes will be revived with this reversal.
He’s taking a knee. The Cardinal running back is expected to be a top pick in April’s NFL draft, so Christian McCaffrey isn’t risking injury against North Carolina in the Dec. 30 Sun Bowl. It’s a mostly meaningless contest in El Paso, Texas, far from the bright lights of the College Football Playoffs. LSU’s Leonard Fournette is making a similar choice, one that cuts to the heart of the debate over unpaid labor in college sports and could spark a trend among players planning to go pro.