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Morning Reads: Truck Attack in Berlin; Russian Ambassador Killed; President Obama Plans to Block Arctic Drilling

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Truck Attack in Berlin; [...]

Forensic experts examine on December 20, 2016, the scene around a truck that crashed into a Christmas market near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) in Berlin. (ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

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Russian ambassador assassinated –> Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was shot and killed yesterday while attending an art opening in Ankara. The assassin was a member of the local riot police force, and after firing yelled, “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” David Filipov, Kareem Fahim and Liz Sly write for The Washington Post, “The shooting was among the most brazen retaliatory attacks yet on Russia since Moscow entered the war in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad, and unleashed a bombardment on Aleppo that has drawn international condemnation for what observers on the ground have called indiscriminate attacks on civilians.” Turkey and Russia already have a tense relationship; each has supported opposing factions in the Syrian Civil War.

Attack on Christmas market in Germany –> “A tractor trailer barreled into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin on Monday night, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others,” CNN reports. This attack is reminiscent of one earlier this year in Nice, France. Germany has been struggling to integrate its large refugee population, and, if the attacker turns out to be Muslim and a terrorist, as police believe, this incident will likely embolden Germany’s far-right, and imperil Angela Merkel’s chances of reelection next year.

This morning, police were uncertain if the man they have in custody is the attacker; the real culprit may still be at large.

It’s almost official –> The Electoral College chose Donald Trump as president and Mike Pence as vice president. Seven electors went rogue, though five of them were supposed to vote for Clinton. Of those five, three voted for Colin Powell. Congress will tally the official results on Jan. 6.

Ultraconservative powwow –> “The leader of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party has signed what he called a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party and recently met with Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the designated national security adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump of the United States,” Alison Smale reports for The New York Times. “Word of the agreement with Russia was the latest sign that the Kremlin is forging bonds with political parties across Europe in what some European leaders suspect is a coordinated attempt to meddle in their affairs and potentially weaken Western democracies.”

“…The Freedom Party, founded in the 1950s by ex-Nazis, surged this year to nearly capture the largely ceremonial presidency of Austria in May, but was defeated in a final runoff on Dec. 4. Still, its ascendance, alongside the rise of rightist parties in many European countries and with Mr. Trump’s victory, has raised new questions about political realignment across the continent.”

That Trump University settlement –> Information about the case has been made public, Josh Gerstein reports for Politico: “The settlement submitted to a federal court in San Diego indicates that Trump is personally guaranteeing that the $25 million will be handed over to plaintiffs’ lawyers by Jan. 18, 2017, two days before he is scheduled to be sworn-in as president. The deal scuttled the bizarre possibility of Trump facing a civil class-action fraud trial as he waited to assume the nation’s highest office.”

We’re not making this up –> Judd Legum and Kira Lerner report for ThinkProgress that in an effort to please the president-elect, Kuwait has rescheduled an event so that it will occur at Trump’s DC hotel. “A source tells ThinkProgress that the Kuwaiti embassy, which has regularly held the event at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, abruptly canceled its reservation after members of the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect. The source, who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy, spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. ThinkProgress was also able to review documentary evidence confirming the source’s account.”

Cost of doing business –> The Center for Public Integrity reports that for a million-dollar donation to a conservative charity, donors can receive a “private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J. Trump,” a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for four guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump and team,” as well as tickets to other events and “autographed guitars by an Opening Day 2017 performer” (assuming they can book one).

The offer is being made by a separate nonprofit headed by Trump’s sons. Donors who take the Trumps up on this offer may be able to remain anonymous, since tax law does not require some nonprofit groups to disclose their donations. (These groups are also not supposed to engage in political activity, but in recent years the IRS has only sporadically enforced that part of the law.)

Obama’s last stand on climate? –> “President Barack Obama is preparing to block the sale of new offshore drilling rights in much of the US Arctic and parts of the Atlantic, a move that could indefinitely restrict oil production there, according to two people familiar with the decision,” Jennifer A. Dlouhy reports for Bloomberg. “Obama will invoke a provision in a 1953 law that gives him wide latitude to withdraw US waters from future oil and gas leasing, said the people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced. Until now the law has been used sparingly to permanently preserve coral reefs, walrus feeding grounds and marine sanctuaries.” A drilling ban put in place using this particular law would take Trump years to undo.

Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

 


 

We produce this news digest every weekday. You can sign up to receive these updates as an email newsletter each morning.