It’s been a rough 24 hours. Last night, a truck plowed through a Christmas market in Berlin, killing at least 12 people and wounding dozens more. Sound familiar? The attack is eerily reminiscent of the Bastille Day killings in France earlier this year, when a lorry killed 86 people on a promenade in Nice. There’s still a lot we don’t know, but German officials have determined that it was an act of terror. It’s also been reported that the suspect, arrested shortly after the attack near the scene, is a Pakistani refugee who came to Germany earlier this year to seek asylum.
The attack comes at a time when tensions over refugee admissions across Europe, facing the largest refugee crisis since WWII, are at all-time highs. But so far, despite harsh criticism from across the political spectrum, Germany, under the leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has served as a model of an inclusive, pro-refugee democracy, opening its door to more than 1 million refugees in 2015. This latest attack will likely amplify criticism of Merkel’s refugee policy and trigger a new wave of anti-Muslim and anti-refugee rhetoric both in Europe and at home. But as Angela Merkel herself has reminded us, we cannot give into the goal of terrorists to “sow hate and fear between cultures and they sow hate and fear between religions.” While we must be unyielding in our fight to protect the security of our citizens, we must also never compromise the values of freedom and openness that make us the target of their hate. Those who do with xenophobic comments and policies help reinforce exactly what the terrorists seek to create: a culture of fear and hatred.
Karlov. Yesterday’s assassination of Russian ambassador Karlov is part of a larger and complex story of an up-and-down relationship between Turkey and Russia, who for some time have been on opposite sides of the Syrian Civil War. While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the assassin, a member of the Turkish police, shouted “Don’t Forget Aleppo” as he shot Karlov. Reminder: Karlov’s government in Moscow has been behind the Assad regime’s tragic assault on Aleppo, which has caused outcry among many in neighboring Turkey. You can learn more by reading the New York Times’ explainer of what Karlov’s murder means for Turkey, Syria, Russia, and the U.S.
Under pressure. Since Donald Trump won the election, foreign businesses, embassies, and others have felt pressure to patronize Trump’s businesses. Here’s a particularly obvious example: the Embassy of Kuwait reportedly abruptly cancelled its plans with the Four Seasons and switched to Trump’s hotel after being pressured by members of the Trump Organization. Conflict of interest, anyone?
“1 for 38 Kasich.” Yesterday, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) signed a bill expanding Ohio’s concealed carry law. The bill, SB 199, allows concealed handguns to be carried in places like day care centers, college campuses, airport terminals, school safety zones, and certain government buildings. He also signed a bill preventing local governments from raising their minimum wages. These are good things to remind everyone who celebrated Kasich as a moderate Republican during the primary.
Could you BE any swampier? – Chandler Bing reacting to Trump’s cabinet, probably. Today, The New York Times reported that Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin moves in secretive hedge fund circles and, notably, raised a lot of money for Donald Trump.
UNDER THE RADAR
One more time for the people in the back. That means you, President-elect Donald. No matter how many people, including our next president, tweet or talk about voter fraud, the facts are that very few cases exist. In fact, out of the 137.7 million votes cast in the 2016 election, there was only one case of alleged voter fraud. Know what is very real? Voter suppression, especially against people of color.
Baby steps. In the absence of national progress, states have taken the lead on criminal justice reform. And from safely reforming sentencing laws, to reducing mandatory minimums, to expanding effective treatment and rehabilitation options progress has been made. More here.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#PayMyBills. This holiday season, Republicans in Congress are scheming to strip health care coverage from 29 million Americans. We want them to know, if they take away our health care, they can pay our medical bills. Fill out this form to ask a congressman to #PayMyBills.
Don’t Take Our Care. That’s the message behind more than 65 protests scheduled happening across the country today organized by MoveOn and other allies. Want to join? Here is a map, here is a list of events, and here is a search engine to find the event nearest you.
Justice. Yesterday, President Obama made a strong dent in the damaging effects of the 90s crime legislation by pardoning 78 people and lessening the sentence of 153 others–the most in one day by any president ever. While this doesn’t fix our broken criminal justice system, it does help remove obstacles faced by thousands of non-violent offenders.