At least 115 people died and 150 were injured in a predawn train derailment in India’s Uttar Pradesh State today. The incident caused the train’s locomotive to overturn and most of the deaths occurred in the first few cars of the 14 that derailed near the Kanpur railway junction. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “anguished beyond words” and the country’s railway minister has promised an immediate investigation and compensation for survivors. The death toll was expected to rise, authorities said, as rescuers were still trying to gain access to the worst-damaged car.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Is he toying with his prey? Donald Trump made no secret of his disdain for 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney after the former Massachusetts governor called him a “fraud” and refused to endorse him. But Saturday the two men met at the mogul’s New Jersey golf club and shook hands for the cameras. Not official reason was announced, but sources have said Romney’s a contender for the coveted secretary of state post — along with Trump loyalist Rudy Giuliani, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker.
Bring America together — just for one day. On Thursday, many U.S. families will face relatives who may be political enemies, with turkey legs and carving knives between them. Rather than revert to pre-election shouting matches, Thanksgiving should be a time to appreciate why Aunt Bea or Cousin Ranjit chose to vote against everything you believe in. “Be curious” and genuinely listen to their views, advises seasoned hostage negotiator George Kohlrieser. “Try and understand their alienation.” Above all, keep your emotions in check, and when a comment threatens to spoil the meal, “Pass the potatoes.”
Will they make America great? On Friday, the president-elect named Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, rejected in 1986 for a judgeship by GOP senators over racially charged remarks, to be his attorney general. That’s a repudiation of the Voting Rights Act and permissive immigration policies, which Sessions has reportedly opposed. His appointment caps a week of similarly striking Republican choices, like Stephen Bannon, linked to white nationalism through his Breitbart website, as chief strategist, and Rep. Mike Pompeo, who backed a Trump rival, as CIA director. And unlike 1986, the Senate appears likely to confirm Sessions.
It’s an art. Donald Trump faced multiple lawsuits alleging fraud by his for-profit Trump University. He’d vowed to fight them, but settled all three cases for $25 million 10 days before one trial was to start in San Diego. Students had paid up to $35,000 for classes on real estate and investing, hoping to learn The Donald’s secrets, but the lawsuits claimed instruction was shoddy and sold using high-pressure tactics. Trump tweeted the amount was a “small fraction” of a potential award, and he settled to “focus on our country.”
It means what, exactly? That’s now up to the House of Commons, which has to approve British Prime Minister Theresa May’s bid to start the process of withdrawing from the European Union in March. And it’s likely to get messy. May probably has the votes, but with EU and U.K. law heavily intertwined, the complications will arise from parliamentary amendments — including from Euroskeptics — specifying which European laws Britain will keep, and a “sunset clause” that would allow them to expire, forcing a parade of Commons votes on each statute.
“When anger rises, think of the consequences.” That Confucian saying could be applied to one of America’s most pressing foreign policy issues: a newly aggressive, repressive and anti-competitive China. James Fallows writes that he and fellow veteran Beijing watchers are seeing a regression unparalleled since the brutal 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. President-elect Donald Trump has threatened an extreme response, but experts warn that such a strategy would likely make the country more withdrawn and combative, not to mention damage the two rivals’ deeply enmeshed economies — and with them, the entire globe’s.
Know This: President Obama is reportedly considering restructuring the NSA and removing its head, Admiral Mike Rogers, who met Thursday with Donald Trump. South Korean prosecutors suspect President Park Geun-hye of criminal conspiracy and plan to question her. And Sen. John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner in Vietnam, told an international security forum that he doesn’t “give a damn what the president of the United States wants, …. We will not waterboard.”
Stay for This: “We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights.” — onstage message from actor Brandon Victor Dixon to Mike Pence as he left a performance of Hamilton on Broadway. Trump has demanded the show apologize to Pence.
What good is utopia if you can’t visit? Last year, Vit Jedlicka founded Liberland, 2.5 square miles of unclaimed marshland between Serbia and Croatia, as an independent libertarian nation. Liberland’s currency is bitcoin, and it levies no taxes. While Jedlicka’s signed up half a million would-be residents online and printed passports, Croatia opposes further Balkanization — it’s arresting and fining anyone trying to enter Liberland, including its founder, who’s persona non grata at Croatian passport control. Now he’s gone overboard, buying a houseboat to lead a nation afloat.
Just press play. Live streaming allows activists to act locally and inform globally. But spreading their message and holding authorities accountable also brings challenges. Many countries don’t protect filming by law — as the U.S. does — putting streamers at risk. Platforms like Facebook Live are limited by mobile broadband speed, and live streaming can have serious consequences. Witness, an international nonprofit supporting the tool for global action, notes that Spain’s enacted laws punishing those who film police, and in Syria, some believe an online feed was used to target a government airstrike that killed the streamer.
Their hearts will go on — not necessarily by choice. We’re sometimes allowed to keep our surgically excised body parts, like the ballerina who kept hip bone pieces as souvenirs of her dance career. But we’re confronted with ethical cases like that of Charles Byrne, an 18th century “giant” whose skeleton is displayed at a London museum against his wishes, and the Philadelphia exhibit featuring the conjoined livers of “Siamese” twins. As our ideas of bodily autonomy change, we’re starting to question medical consent forms’ fine print removing our rights along with our parts.
Innocent is in. From its Japanese birthplace to Disneyland, women are spending generously on “Lolita” style, featuring Victorian petticoats, bodices and ruffles. It’s a playful dress-up style, but its name evokes the underage love interest in Vladimir Nabokov’s eponymous novel. Companies like Hello Kitty maker Sanrio are cashing in on Japanese fashion exports expected to rise from $595 billion last year to $625 billion in 2025, and early adopters are thrilled to see the trend captured on New York Fashion Week runways. Still, they must deflect sneers that they’re guilty of capitalizing on pedophilic fantasy.
It’s no country for young men. Only five men younger than 21 are ranked in the top 100 of the ATP World Tour, a far cry from the old days when John McEnroe and Boris Becker showed championship form as teenagers. In today’s power game, youngsters tend to toil in obscurity until they can build the strength and stamina to reach the top — as fans are starved for new talent. A big-money under-21 tournament next year hopes to showcase up-and-comers, with Americans, Russians and South Koreans leading the pack.