It started with an explosion inside. As panicked worshipers fled the Rawda Mosque on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula Friday, gunmen in SUVs mowed them down outside. With at least 305 dead, many of them children, and 128 wounded, the Bir al-Abed terror attack was the modern nation’s deadliest. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi vowed that “revenge” would be meted out by security forces, who later reported striking Sinai militants by air. The victims were Sufis, whose mystical Islam is condemned as heretical by ISIS, which has local affiliates but has not claimed the attack.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’ve turned a corner. The pressured resignation last week of Robert Mugabe, who helped liberate Zimbabwe and bludgeon it into the status of an all-but-failed state, was momentous for the southern African nation. Sworn in Friday as its new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa is hardly a fresh face, however, having overseen the elimination of political foes since he fought alongside Mugabe against white minority and British colonial rule. Nevertheless, he’s promised a “new, unfolding democracy,” and now that they’ve had a breath of freedom, his fellow Zimbabweans might well hold him to it.
What happened? Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned while visiting Riyadh on Nov. 4, and now, with France’s help, he’s back in Beirut and in his old chair. With deep ties in Saudi Arabia, including two children studying there, Hariri’s mysterious motives have been theorized from Tyre to Tripoli. What’s clear is that he and his delicately glued nation are wedged between the Shiite Iranians and Sunni Saudis. That’s left Lebanese factions struggling to maintain balance as external forces battle for the nation’s soul while the prime minister prepares to negotiate his future role in government.
Spare your tears. Those mourning the impending removal of net neutrality regulations — supposedly in place to guarantee equal access to the internet — are apparently forgetting the web isn’t exactly made for competition or consumer equity. While traditional telecom ISPs have a history of taking customers for a ride, recent developments show that even with neutrality rules in place, once-respected new tech companies like Google and Uber regularly violate consumer trust themselves. Old-school giants like Comcast or Verizon may have been tamed, but “Big Tech” controls levers that few others can touch.
Do you hear the trickle? Among President Donald Trump’s promises, corporate tax cuts juicing American workers’ paychecks was near the top of the list — but some wage earners may be in for a disappointment, experts say. The theory is that a proposed business rate of 20 percent would boost wages by $4,000 each year. But that strategy hasn’t worked in other advanced economies. Experts say the chain that connects low corporate tax rates to greater investment, leading to higher productivity, isn’t likely to be as strong as advertised.
The Week Ahead: It begins with Cyber Monday, with online shopping rivaling Black Friday in terms of sale prices and consumer traffic. On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee plans to question Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who provided foreign policy advice to President Trump’s transition team and worked with ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, who’s believed to be negotiating a deal with Russiagate Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And that evening, the president and first lady will light the National Christmas Tree.
Know This: A group working with North Korean defectors says its sources reported that more than 100 children were killed when their school collapsed in September, when the rogue nation tested its most powerful nuclear device nearby. President Trump says he’s refused to be Time’s Person of the Year, but the magazine disputes that. And the U.S. is planning to stop arming Kurdish forces that have been instrumental in fighting ISIS.
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Call it justice deferred. The U.S. Coast Guard has been targeting low-level smugglers, thousands of miles from American shores. Upon capture, it shackles them in its ships for weeks, sometimes months, until they reach U.S. courts in a program started under Gen. John Kelly, now White House chief of staff. More than 2,700 suspected cocaine smugglers have been detained through this method, which the U.S. wants to use as a deterrent. But as an alternative to the region’s intractable poverty, the lure of this risky trade remains addictive.
They had few other options — until now. A new program in Croatia — willed into being by former social worker Ladislav Lamza — has transformed a primitive “home for the insane.” Now he’s supervising shared apartments in the eastern city of Osijek, where otherwise hopeless patients enjoy the freedom and support to truly recover. Whether burdened by crippling drinking problems or paranoid schizophrenia, local residents find the project to be far more beneficial than the institutions in which they’d previously been confined. Says one woman battling depression: “I feel born again.”
Its foundation is anchored in sand. In the United Arab Emirates, life is lavish — at least for some. The country keeps its citizens and visitors comfortable by being the fourth-largest exporter of oil and gas on earth. It eagerly powers its islands of air-conditioning, glass and steel using cheap oil and an expendable foreign workforce. And anxious economic migrants from everywhere seek their fortunes at its refineries. But as the climate bakes this blistering desert, the question can’t be ignored: How long can this be sustained?
They’re doing the “Time Warp” — again. It was a movie that should have never been made, but made it was, and now The Room has become a cult classic. Skeptical? It’s spawned actual cults, who screen the movie, cosplay their favorite characters and wield props, just like their parents did decades ago at midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s inspired James Franco to make and star in a “making of” movie called The Disaster Artist, celebrating filmmaker Tommy Wiseau, set for limited release on Friday.
Foul doesn’t begin to describe it. A largely unregulated industry of basketball preparatory schools have lured student athletes, from the U.S. and abroad, to campuses with promises of gaining the attention of college basketball scouts. But in exchange for hefty tuition, many players have found themselves living in squalor with questionable athletics and exposure, never mind academic courses that are often worthless, jeopardizing any chance at playing college ball. Now, with increasing government scrutiny, authorities are cracking down, but current laws have proven inadequate to keep such scams from resurfacing.