Festivus for the rest of us
Good morning, and Happy Festivus for those of you who celebrate that particular holiday. Today is the day you get to make your annual complaint. Just don’t make it in my direction because I’m not listening. We have rain moving into the Midwest this afternoon while to our North a major winter storm is developing that could interrupt holiday travel for a lot of people. Wherever you are, please be safe when you’re on the road.
There is a lot to discuss this morning. Uber has moved its driverless car fleet to Arizona after the California Department of Transportation revoked the registration of its 16 vehicles. JetBlue removed some rowdy passengers from a flight carrying Ivanka Trump. And A Lybian plane presumed to be hijacked has landed in Malta. That situation is ongoing and at this point we don’t have enough details to elaborate. Let’s get into our 5 things you should know.
The Tunisian driver in the German market incident is dead
Early this morning, police in Milan, Italy reported that they had shot and killed the man believed responsible for driving a truck into a crowded holiday market in Berlin earlier this week, killing 121. Anis Amri had been the subject of a European-wide manhunt, though as of last night Berlin officials said they believed him to still be in that city. Amri pulled a gun when stopped at a routine traffic stop in Milan and was killed in the subsequent shootout.
While attempts to actually connect Amri with the terrorist organization are questionable, the Islamic State has taken credit for the attack in Berlin, which may be part of a broader plan to boost its visibility. Early yesterday, Australian authorities said they foiled a plot to attack multiple locations there on Sunday2. The five ISIS-inspired terrorists had planned the attack using explosives, knives, and guns for high profile locations in Canberra, Australia’s second-largest city.
At the same time, there are reports of a list of churches in the United States that have been targeted for attack by the group as well3. National Security Administration officials question whether the list has any authority to it or if it is just rhetoric in an attempt to disrupt holiday celebrations. Security across the US is already heightened after the attack in Berlin, but no credible threats have been identified.
The nuclear arms race may be back on
After decades of deliberate attempts at reducing nuclear proliferation, both Russia and the United States now seem poised to start up the nuclear arms race once again4. First, it was Russian President Vladimir Putin stating that strengthening his country’s nuclear capabilities should be a chief military objective in the coming year. President-elect Donald Trump quickly fired back with a tweet saying the United States needs to “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability” until the rest of the world “comes to its senses” regarding nuclear weapons.
Sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it? There are a couple of things on this topic we need to keep in mind. First, the nuclear arsenals of both countries is getting old. Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties of the 1970s pretty much put a halt to any new nuclear weapons development. As our nuclear stockpile begins to age, there is some danger in radioactive material leaking from corroded containers. Plans have been under discussion for some time as to how the US might upgrade its stockpile without violating existing treaties.
At the same time, however, one has to consider the possibility that Putin was merely baiting the president-elect. If so, it would appear that the trap worked. Mr. Trump’s proclivity toward tweeting before thinking was an issue all through the campaign and this may well be another occasion where someone on his staff shows up today attempting to walk back the gaffe. Either way, there is plenty of reason to be concerned. Talk about nuclear weapons is not a joking matter and taken very seriously by leaders around the world. Any attempt at a new buildup would likely face UN restrictions as well as a Congress not terribly excited about funding such a project.
Worst year in history
If you’re thinking that 2016 has been the worst year ever, you may be correct, at least for the murder rate in Indianapolis. The murder of a man who opened his door and was immediately shot was the city’s 145th homicide. Murder number 146 came late yesterday as police found a man in the 4500 block of East 37th Street who had not only been shot but then set on fire. These murders make 2016 the deadliest year in Indianapolis history5.
All this comes on the same day that police chief Troy Riggs announced his resignation and at the end of the first year of Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration. Hogsett ran in 2015 on a campaign of reducing violence in the city. However, despite aggressive efforts to bring the rate of violence under control, homicides have continued to rise. Officials are blaming everything from poverty to substance abuse and mental illness. Chief Riggs said in a statement on Thursday that the fundamental cause remains the fact that too many people are settling arguments with gunfire.
Nationwide, FBI statistics have shown violent crime to be decreasing across the nation. However, in the Midwest both Chicago and Indianapolis have defied that trend with homicides in both cities setting new records each year. Officials in both cities have struggled across multiple administrations without finding an answer to the problem, leaving certain parts of the cities as dangerous as war zones.
Forcing women to work
The president-elect’s transition team is having some difficulty finding artists and entertainers willing to perform at inaugural events next month. Just yesterday, Canadian singer Celine Dion released a statement adding her name to the list of people who have told the president-elect “No, thank you.6” This puts her on the same list as Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, and Garth Brooks, among others.
After all the many declines, inauguration planners were happy to announce yesterday that the Mormon Tabernacle Choice and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes would be performing7. Neither addition is surprising as both have performed for inaugurations before. To some extent, their presence is pretty much old-hat.
Wait just one minute, though. It would seem there is some dissension among the ranks of the Rockettes. Pheobe Pearl, one of the Rockettes, wrote on her private Instagram account yesterday that, “Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed.”
It’s no secret that an overwhelming number of New Yorkers voted against the president-elect so the dissent isn’t surprising. However, the Rockettes are owned by the Madison Square Garden Company and a union boss responded to Ms. Pearl’s statement saying that any dancer who didn’t participate in the inauguration event would find themselves unemployed. Needless to say, that stance has not set well with the Broadway community nor social media. Something tells me this situation isn’t quite over.
And finally …
We end this week saying goodbye to Franca Sozzani, the editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia who passed away at her home yesterday with her son by her side8. Franca had been editor of the magazine for 28 years, taking on that position the same year Anna Wintour took the lead position at US Vogue. Immediately, memorials began pouring in from fashion’s most notable names expressing their condolences. Ms. Wintour described her as, “warm, clever, funny, and someone who could give the Sphinx a run for its money when it comes to keeping a confidence.9” Jonathan Newhouse, Chairman and CEO of Conde Nast, the parent company of all the Vogue editions, said in a statement: “France was one of the greatest Editors who ever make a magazine. She was by far the most talented, influential, and important person within the Conde Nast International organization.”
More than just an editor of a fashion magazine, however, Franca Sozzani was a photographer. She was the daughter of a photographer and had an unquestionable passion for photography that was evident in how she put together her magazine. She championed hundreds of photographers over the years, most notably Steven Meisel. She was constantly on the look for emerging photographers and established and supported multiple programs to give those photographers a chance to show their work.
Make no mistake, she was demanding and set a very high standard for the photography that graced the pages of her magazine and even in its more expanded online galleries. Having that small Vogue Italia logo in the bottom left-hand corner of a photo was an incredible achievement, a statement to the world that the toughest of photo editors approved of your work. I am fortunate enough to have that logo on 18 photographs. We normally don’t include those images with our other portfolios, but for the next few days at least we’ve put them all online in memory of a fantastic person who pushed us all to take better pictures. You can see our Vogue Italia portfolio here.
We are once again out of time and space. We hope you will enjoy your Festivus activities and that you will join us again tomorrow as we try to find 5 special things you need to know for Christmas Eve. Don’t forget to subscribe, please. We hope you stay warm and dry. Have a great Friday.