Authorities say four people were injured after a man detonated an apparent pipe bomb under a busy New York bus terminal during morning rush hour. Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s police commissioner both said the incident, at Manhattan’s main Port Authority bus terminal, a bustling commuter hub, was an attempted terror attack. Police have taken the suspect, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, into custody after he was injured in the apparently botched attempt. Three subway lines were shut down, while nearby New Jersey boosted its own transport security.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He came, he saw, he backed away. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Syria today, ordering a “significant part” of the Kremlin’s military presence to be pulled out, starting immediately. He said they’d succeeded in defeating ISIS and aiding embattled Moscow ally Bashar Assad in the country’s seemingly intractable civil war — conveniently ahead of March presidential elections. The Syrian operation is credited with raising Russia’s profile in the Middle East, which will persist, Putin said, with an air and a naval base remaining in case “terrorists raise their head again.”
They’re relentless. The state’s biggest wildfire has now grown so much, covering 230,000 acres and displacing 88,000 people, that it’s bigger than the cities of New York and Boston combined. The Thomas fire, raging northwest of metropolitan Los Angeles, spread another 50,000 acres Sunday and authorities say it’s the fifth-largest in California’s modern history: It has destroyed hundreds of structures, claimed one life and dropped from 15 percent to 10 percent contained. Meanwhile, the 8,500 firefighters battling all six of the region’s blazes are making progress in other areas.
He put facts “squarely on the table.” That was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction to President Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week. The move ignited widespread protests, sparked deadly Middle Eastern violence and provoked criticism from American allies worldwide. Speaking in Brussels, Netanyahu predicted that “all, or most European countries” would repeat Trump’s declaration, as the Czech Republic has. But other nations and the EU have withheld recognition, hoping to broker peace with Palestinians who see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Will cooler heads prevail? Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, was in Oslo accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for the group that’s helped convince 122 nations to sign a U.N. treaty banning nuclear arms. She warned that “the deaths of millions may be one tiny tantrum away” – apparently referring to mercurial North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump, who have traded increasingly bellicose threats. Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has said the chance of war is increasing daily.
It’s the coin of the realm. The strictly digital cryptocurrency made its surrogate debut on traditional markets with the opening of futures linked to its value trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange — a key step in bringing bitcoin mainstream. Within hours, January contracts climbed more than 20 percent to $16,000. Actual bitcoins, the world’s most popular virtual currency, hit a record high of more than $16,858 on Dec. 7 at one exchange, and other linked futures contracts begin trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Dec. 18.
Know This: President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has broken with the administration’s dismissals of women who have accused the president of sexual misconduct, saying they “should be heard.” Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro has announced that some of the main opposition parties will be barred from next year’s presidential election. And the Philadelphia Eagles held off the L.A. Rams 43-35 to secure the NFC East title, but lost MVP-hopeful quarterback Carson Wentz to a knee injury.
Remember This Number: Four. That’s the minimum number of hours President Trump spends watching television each day, sometimes taking in twice that, according to The New York Times’ account of how the commander in chief does his work.
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He’s not alone. Keaton Jones’ mother shared a Facebook video detailing his lunchtime harassment, which included bullies pouring milk on him and mocking his surgery scars. Now the video’s racked up 22 million views as people are moved by Keaton’s tearful question, “Just out of curiosity, why do they bully?” He now counts heroes like the Hulk, Luke Skywalker and Captain America among his friends after an outpouring of support from celebrities including Mark Ruffalo, Mark Hamill and Chris Evans, who invited Keaton to the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War.
They’ve been there all along. Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has announced the unearthing of two tombs dating back to the 18th dynasty — around 1400 B.C. — thought to belong to Theban officials. The tombs, located in the necropolis of Dra’ Abu el-Naga on the western bank of the Nile, were first discovered by a German archaeologist in the 1990s, but remained undisturbed until now. So far researchers have found a mummy, an elaborate mural, treasures including masks and statues, and funerary seals that may help identify the deceased.
These dead tell tales. Tania El Khoury’s touring exhibit Gardens Speak gives voice to victims of Syria’s civil war. At a Miami Beach art festival, visitors lie in shallow graves while hearing real stories of individuals killed in the conflict. El Khoury was inspired by an image of a Syrian mother digging her son a grave in her garden because public funerals had become too dangerous. The macabre installation, originally in Arabic and displayed in Lebanon, promises to bring more victims to life as it continues its world travels.
Take it easy. That’s a philosophy young professionals seem increasingly ready to adopt, researchers believe. In fact, 84 percent of millennials say they’ll take a “significant” career break at some point — opting instead to travel or pursue educational opportunities, as well as caring for children or elderly relatives — thanks in part to their diminished interest in climbing the career ladder compared to previous generations. But returning to reality won’t be easy: Finding that next job or adapting to new technologies might take the edge off their newly nurtured tranquility.
Somebody’s head needs an examination. After Tom Savage took a solid hit from San Francisco’s Elvis Dumervil Sunday, video replay showed him dazed on the ground, hands shaking — but a sidelines neurotrauma consultant cleared him to continue. Three fruitless plays later, he was re-examined and diagnosed with a concussion, making him the sixth Houston player dealing with the injury that’s plaguing the sport. Chris Nowinski, who’s campaigning against brain injuries, said he was “disgusted” by Savage’s treatment, and the league is investigating whether its concussion protocol was followed.