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Vox Sentences: Congratulations, President-elect Trump. Here’s the world you’re inheriting.

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A Turkish policeman assassinated the Russian ambassador; a truck attack at a Christmas market in Berlin; the electors back Trump.


The assassination of ambassador Andrey Karlov

AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici
  • Russia's ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was assassinated Monday at an event in Ankara. [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • The shooter, who is in custody, is a 22-year-old member of the Ankara riot police. After shooting Karlov, the shooter shouted he had "pledged jihad to Muhammad" and added, "Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!" [Washington Post / David Filipov, Kareem Fahim and Liz Sly]
  • "Aleppo" refers to Russia's civilian-slaughtering airstrikes on the city as part of its intervention supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria. But Assad (and Russia) justify their actions as a fight against rebel "terrorists" — a characterization that the assassination of a Russian ambassador would seem to reinforce. [BBC]
  • (This is part of a greater Russian effort to build its influence abroad by portraying itself as a force against Islamism, able to succeed where the US and Europe's weakened liberal values have failed.) [The Atlantic / Mike Lofgren]
  • What makes this diplomatically awkward (to say the least) for Turkey is that Turkey has been supporting some Syrian rebels (along with the US and EU). And Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a committed Islamist himself. [New Yorker / Dexter Filkins]
  • The Turkish/Russian relationship has been tense over the past several years, though both countries were making an effort to repair ties. The question now facing both countries is whether it's more important for Russia to take a stand against "Islamism" or to cultivate another country's ambivalence toward the West. [Reuters / Olesya Astakhova and Nick Tattersall]
  • If Russia chooses to blame Turkey for the assassination, it's not going to go to war against it — Turkey's still a NATO member, and Russia won't risk it. In other words, this is not a repeat of 1914, when the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Serbia started World War I. [Slate / Joshua Keating]
  • But there are particular ways Russia could try to turn up the heat on Turkey — which will probably further increase global instability. [Foreign Policy / Robby Gramer and Emily Tankin]

A truck attack in Berlin

Vox/Javier Zarracina
  • At least nine people were killed and dozens were injured Monday in Berlin, where a truck veered onto the sidewalk and plowed into a crowd at a Christmas market. [BuzzFeed News / Talal Ansari, Salvador Hernandez and Jina Moore]
  • The suspect has been arrested, though police haven't released details. [Reuters / Michael Nienaber]
  • This tactic is increasingly familiar. ISIS has urged lone wolves to use vehicles as weapons, and it's the method used by the attacker in Nice, France, on Bastille Day (who confessed to being inspired by ISIS). [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • Germany's currently struggling, economically and culturally, to integrate its hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. If the perpetrator of this attack is Muslim, it's highly likely to spark political backlash and empower the far right — further imperiling German Chancellor Angela Merkel. [New Yorker / Thomas Meaney]
  • (The sad irony is that many Syrian refugees now living in Germany are uncomfortable at German mosques because they find their Islam too conservative.) [Reuters / Joseph Nasr]
  • Meanwhile, in Switzerland, a gunman shot three men praying in a mosque. (Nothing about the attacker is yet known.) [Dallas News / Dennis Jansen]
  • We wouldn't have assumed these incidents were connected. But the President-elect of the United States believes that the attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany today constitute a wave of terrorism that is "only getting worse" — and show "the civilized world must change thinking!" [President-elect Donald J. Trump via Twitter]

Trump graduates from Electoral College

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Fox News Sunday. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty
  • Speaking of Trump. He's officially the president-elect of the United States. More than the required 270 electors supported him in their state convenings Monday, marking the second time in five elections that the loser of the popular vote has won the presidency. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • This will come as a disappointment to people who had their hopes set on the (always-doomed) effort to inspire "faithless electors" to vote against the candidate who won their states on November 8. In fact, faithless electors were as likely to break against Hillary Clinton as Donald Trump. [MarketWatch / Greg Robb]
  • To some, the fact that the electors supported Donald Trump — despite post-election revelations about the extent and purpose of Russian interference in the presidential campaign — demonstrates that the Electoral College failed to do the job for which it was theoretically designed: to prevent the election of a demagogue or, more worrisomely, a puppet of a foreign power. [Washington Post / E.J. Dionne]
  • But arguably, the push to get electors to defect itself damaged democratic norms and the future health of the Electoral College as an institution. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • Of course, if the Electoral College simply didn't exist, we wouldn't have this problem. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The question is how to fix it. There are several options (including an interstate compact to have electors support the winner of the popular vote, and a potential federal law). [Mischiefs of Faction / Gregory Koger]
  • But (perhaps unsurprisingly) the results of the election have split support for the Electoral College itself along partisan lines. Republicans support the system that gave them President Trump. [FiveThirtyEight / Carl Bialik]

Miscellaneous

  • Animal rights advocates are wary of this Otter. [Politico / Ian Kullgren]
  • Dylan went to the Yangon Drug Elimination Museum in Myanmar this weekend and he can confirm it is exactly as bizarre and amazing as this piece describes. [The Atlantic / Graeme Wood]
  • At 16, Nepali guitarist Nirvana Bista played "Flight of the Bumblebee" at 1,600 bpm, becoming quite possibly the fastest guitarist on Earth. [NY Mag / Kelsey McKinney]
  • You may have heard that dinosaurs had second brains to handle the back half of their bodies. It's a total myth. [Smithsonian / Brian Switek]
  • Teen Vogue's political turn isn't surprising. It's giving their teen readers the stories they want. [The Atlantic / Sophie Gilbert]

Verbatim

  • "Normal people would find it very hard to shoot a Westworld creature. It seems like you have to be a sociopath to have to do the things they show the people doing to the robots in Westworld." [Cornell psychology professor David Pizarro to Mic / Melanie Ehrenkranz]
  • "Hugh Jackman’s Huge Actin’ is a Simon-Says-like experience in which you have to click on different emojis to copy the emotions exhibited by a 3D model of Jackman himself." [Seattle Weekly / Daniel Roth]
  • "He waits and he worries. He wonders how it makes any sense that an able-bodied man with every compulsion to work must stay idle to ensure that he can support his family." [NYT / Peter Goodman]
  • "As an engineering feat, the water-tunnel system rivals the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal. Yet it has the odd distinction that almost no one will ever see it, save for the sandhogs who are building it." [New Yorker / David Grann]
  • "Here's a promise few movies can make. If you sink two hours into Collateral Beauty now, it's guaranteed that for the rest of your life, when conversation stalls, you can save the night by asking, 'Did you ever see that movie where Will Smith plays an ad executive so shut down with grief over the death of his daughter that his business partners — played by Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, and Michael Peña — hire actors to confront him in public in the roles of Death, Time, and Love, the abstract concepts to whom he has been penning and mailing angry letters?'" [Village Voice / Alan Scherstuhl]

Watch this: One helpful rule for being a Muslim on the internet — don’t read the comments

Turns out it's not so easy being Muslim and online at the same time. [YouTube / Joshua Seftel]

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