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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

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Morning Briefing

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Your Tuesday Briefing
By SEAN ALFANO
A trail of destruction in Berlin today, a day after a truck plowed through crowds at a Christmas market.
A trail of destruction in Berlin today, a day after a truck plowed through crowds at a Christmas market. Markus Schreiber/Associated Press
Good morning.
Here’s what you need to know:
• Deadly attack in Berlin.
The Berlin Christmas market where 12 people died on Monday was the target of terrorism, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said today, adding that the authorities were investigating whether an asylum seeker was behind the attack. At least 45 people were wounded.
No one has claimed responsibility, but a suspect is in custody, the police said. The body of a passenger in the cab of the vehicle, which had been stolen in Poland, was identified as a Polish citizen.
In a separate attack in Zurich, a gunman who wounded three people at an Islamic Center has been found dead.
• Aftermath of assassination in Turkey.
Russia and Turkey have agreed to cooperate in investigating the killing of Moscow’s ambassador to Ankara. Before being shot by officers, the gunman shouted, “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!”
While they have a history of tensions, Russia and Turkey have recently taken pains to line up their once-conflicting strategies in the Syrian war.
• Electoral College seals Trump’s victory.
President-elect Donald J. Trump cleared the 270-vote threshold needed to defeat Hillary Clinton. But protests at state capitols hinted at a tumultuous inauguration and first 100 days in office.
Though seven electors defected, they chose someone other than Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton.
Separately, a federal judge has ordered the release of some documents related to the F.B.I. inquiry of Clinton emails that the agency revealed to Congress two weeks before the election.
• Showdown looms in North Carolina.
The Republican-led legislature plans to hold a special session this week to consider repealing the so-called bathroom bill, which limits legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Governor-elect Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said the bill had cost the state thousands of jobs.
• A $1.6 billion bust?
A six-year effort to improve Interstate 405 in Los Angeles, the busiest highway in the country, known for gridlock, is coming under scrutiny.
Critics say the project hasn’t significantly relieved congestion, and a new study suggests that rush hour traffic has gotten worse.
Business
• The International Monetary Fund is standing by its leader, Christine Lagarde, after she was convicted in a French court of negligence that resulted in the misuse of public funds.
No fine or sentence was imposed, but the ruling could damage Ms. Lagarde’s reputation at a time the I.M.F. faces criticism of being out of touch with populist movements around the world.
• A new study discrediting calls to cut sugar in diets drew sharp criticism this week because its authors have ties to the food industry.
The review was paid for by a group that is funded by Coca-Cola, General Mills, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods and Monsanto, among others.
• Blued is China’s most popular gay dating app, with more than three million active daily users and an estimated value of $600 million.
Its founder is a former police officer who for 16 years secretly ran a website for gay people, at a time when they were viewed by many in the country as criminals and deviants.
• U.S. stocks were up on Monday. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
Noteworthy
• Inside a migrant boat.
Our latest 360 video takes you to a junkyard on an Italian island where boats that carried refugees across the Mediterranean now sit.
• Wonders of the human body.
A woman’s brain is altered during pregnancy in ways that may allow her to better care for her child, a new study suggests.
The lead researcher said the changes could help mothers “recognize social threats” or “promote mother-infant bonding.”
• In memoriam.
Dr. Esther M. Wilkins, 100. At a time when few women were dentists, Dr. Wilkins compiled what would become the modern curriculum for training dental hygienists.
China Machado, 86, whose 1959 appearance in Harper’s Bazaar was the first time a nonwhite model was featured in a glossy magazine. She later became the publication’s fashion director.
• Today’s recipe (with a side of good news).
Try whole wheat pasta baked with brussels sprouts, potatoes and Gruyère — it’s like macaroni and cheese with vegetables.
Then read about a Spanish restaurant with a unique business model: It uses the money it takes in at breakfast and lunch to offer free dinners to the homeless.
Back Story
When is a phone call like a diplomatic life preserver?
When you’re the leader of Taiwan, and on the other end of the line is President-elect Donald J. Trump, the first American head of state to speak to you in 37 years.
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan speaking with President-elect Donald J. Trump from her office in Taipei. The call shattered decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol.
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan speaking with President-elect Donald J. Trump from her office in Taipei. The call shattered decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol.
Taiwan Presidential Office, via Reuters
“When you are small and fighting a much bigger adversary,” briefing.
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