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
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.
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.
It’s not just a formality. In all 50 states, electors will gather at noon local time to certify Donald Trump’s presidential win. But with increased talk of the role Russian hacks played in elevating the mogul to the Oval Office, Republican electors face serious pressure to pick someone else. The chance of that happening is considered infinitesimal, but further efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the administration are likely to follow. Trump’s team remains publicly skeptical that Russia helped him, but both parties are now pushing for a full investigation.
She won’t be penalized. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has been handed a guilty verdict following a trial for negligence. During her time as France’s finance minister, she approved a $429 million payout of public money to controversial French businessman Bernard Tapie. Though Lagarde won’t face jail time despite being found guilty, she could lose her job at the IMF. Already under scrutiny for its role in the Greek bailout, the financial organization now faces a crisis of stability following the judgment against Lagarde.
The buses are back. Countless residents slept in the streets of Aleppo this weekend after civilian evacuations from rebel-held areas were suspended when rebel groups allegedly set government buses on fire. Now thousands have been evacuated — including 7-year-old Bana Alabed, whose tweets about life under siege had raised awareness of Aleppo’s plight around the world. Another 10 buses have departed nearby villages. Meanwhile, France, Russia and the U.S. wrangled a compromise agreement to send U.N. officials to monitor the evacuations and the delivery of humanitarian aid.
It’s been a polarizing weekend. The parliamentary democracy descended into crisis Friday when ruling party PiS proposed serious curbs on the free press, including barring most journalists from Parliament and preventing the media from recording politicians breaking rules. Opposition MPs staged a weekend sit-in, while protesters took to the Warsaw streets to demonstrate against what they say would be a blatant violation of the constitution. Now President Andrzej Duda’s holding talks to resolve the crisis as Poland’s outgoing constitutional court president warns that the country is heading toward autocracy.
They’re choosing sides. Last summer, the European Commission demanded that Apple pay $13.5 billion in back taxes after it determined that Ireland had given the company a sweetheart deal allowing it to pay virtually no taxes by attributing earnings to a “head office” that had no tax residency anywhere. Apple says it was unfairly targeted, and now Ireland’s strongly supporting the company’s position, saying the EU’s executive arm misinterpreted Irish tax law. Apple is launching an appeal this week against the European Commission, which says it’ll defend its original decision.
Know This: Despite riots, protests and looting, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is trumpeting his decision to take certain bills out of circulation as a success. Abuse of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar may constitute crimes against humanity, says Amnesty International. And a woman in Australia discovered a venomous tiger snake wrapped around her Christmas tree.
Watch This: The ghost shark, which has a retractable penis on its head, has been caught on film for the first time.
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She’s at rest, dah-link. Crowned Miss Hungary in 1936, Gabor got her big break as an ingénue in Hollywood in the 1950s with films like Moulin Rouge, but she was eventually best known for playing her distinctive self. Her heavily accented English, one-liners and off-screen antics became her calling cards. Gabor was an early “famous for being famous” type, with nine marriages to wealthy men including Conrad Hilton, and will be remembered for helping pave the way for today’s celebrity culture.
Is the solution too much — or not enough? Facebook’s announcement that it’ll partner with Snopes, PolitiFact and other fact-checking sites to flag hoax stories hasn’t impressed Germany, which fears fake news will influence its 2017 elections, as many believe it did the U.S. presidential race. German lawmakers are considering mandating a local Facebook office deal with fake news stories within 24 hours or face a $522,575 fine per story. Meanwhile, conservative sites are accusing the social network of using the “fake news” label to manifest liberal bias.
A storm is coming. Mayors of five major world cities — Oslo, Stockholm, Sydney, Vancouver and Rio de Janeiro — have written to the mayors of eight big American cities urging them to aggressively tackle global warming on their own, promising to “help in whatever ways [they] can.” Meanwhile, fearing an incoming Trump administration that believes climate change is a hoax, a group of researchers is copying climate and scientific data to independent servers in Canada, where it’ll stay online and accessible no matter the prevailing political wind.
They’re not going against the grain. But rice, which provides the world more calories than any other food, is getting an upgrade to adapt to rising populations and a warming planet. Researchers in Asia, where 520 million people get more than half their calories from rice, are developing new strains to better weather flooding, salinity and toxins. They’re steering away from GMOs, wary of public opinion and legal wrangling — but some scientists say even new strains are a distraction, calling for a focus on food waste and inefficiency instead.
The heat is on. After 14 games, the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots sit atop their respective leagues at 12-2, with Seattle and Oakland punching early postseason tickets, as well. With two regular season games left, the reigning Super Bowl champions in Denver are on the outside looking in and will need help to extend their playoff streak to six seasons. The most thrilling division is the AFC South, where comeback wins by Tennessee and Houston kept them tied on top, as Indianapolis lurks one game behind.