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The Army Corps of Engineers just put a roadblock in the way of the Dakota Access Pipeline (but we don't know how big a roadblock yet); Italy's constitutional referendum fails; the big picture behind Oakland's deadly warehouse fire.
#NoDAPL, for now
- The US Army Corps of Engineers announced Sunday that it will not give the company constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline legal permission to build the pipeline under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe — a route that the Standing Rock Sioux and other indigenous and environmental groups had been protesting for months. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
- The corps commissioned an environmental impact report to consider alternate routes, so it's not killing the pipeline itself just yet — just delaying a final decision for months or years. [The Atlantic / Robinson Meyer]
- That could be a huge problem for the pipeline: Energy Transfer Partners, the company responsible for building it, says some of its contracts with oil companies expire on January 1. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
- Or it could be a very minor hiccup. After all, in January, President Donald Trump — a professed supporter of the Keystone pipeline — will enter the White House. And while it's not at all clear how quickly Trump could stop the Army Corps of Engineers' environmental investigation on hold, it's totally plausible that he and a Republican Congress will find some way to reanimate the pipeline. [Time / Justin Worland]
- Certainly, the companies invested in the pipeline don't seem particularly worried by the corps' announcement. [Slate / Daniel Gross]
- Trump himself, however, might be another matter. He's reportedly sold his own stake in Energy Transfer Partners. This could be an attempt to mitigate presidential conflicts of interest (perhaps unlikely, given Trump's cavalier attitude toward conflicts so far) — or it could just be a sign that he considers the pipeline a risky bet. [CNBC / Jacob Pramuk]
Sadly, "no" in Italian is just "no"
- Voters in Italy decisively rejected proposed reforms to the country's constitution in a referendum over the weekend, with nearly 60 percent of voters (in a surprisingly high-turnout election) voting against changes that would have given more power to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. [The Guardian / Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Angela Giuffrida]
- In response, Renzi (per a promise he made during the campaign) has promised to resign — after the country has passed a budget for 2017, that is. [Politico Europe / Esther King]
- The question of who will succeed Renzi is still unclear. That's bad news for Italy's banks, some of which are (as Vox's Tim Lee writes) "teetering on the edge of insolvency" as it is. [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]
- You could point to that as a reason that Italy's referendum is another case of voters shooting themselves in the foot — especially because, bucking the trend of other anti-establishment votes (Brexit and Trump) dominated by middle-aged and older voters, young people overwhelmingly voted no on the referendum. [FT / Francesco Giavazzi]
- The party looking to seize on the anti-establishment momentum is the left-wing populist Five Star Movement, which campaigned against the referendum and is calling for an "Italexit" vote. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
- Don't make the mistake of conflating the Five Star Movement with Europe's far-right populists — the eponymous "five stars" at the core of its platform include public water and guaranteed internet access. [Bloomberg / John Follain and Chiara Albanese]
- Elsewhere in Europe, meanwhile, populism (of the right-wing variety) actually lost an election, as Austria's far-right candidate lost to a center-left one for the presidency. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
- The Austrian election might show that anti-European Union sentiment has its limits. But it is probably not a good thing for global liberalism (broadly construed) that a politician whose party is compared to the Nazis came within a few percentage points of the presidency at all. [Washington Post / Ishaan Tharoor]
"It could have been any one of us"
- At least 36 people were killed in a fire Friday in an Oakland warehouse and arts space known as the "Ghost Ship," during a crowded party. [The Atlantic / J. Weston Phippen]
- In addition to ongoing excavations, the government is already conducting a criminal investigation to determine if the fire was deliberately set — or if the warehouse's owner and operator was aware of structural problems with the building and did nothing to fix them. [LAT / Matt Hamilton]
- The latter is totally possible. Building owners have been charged after fatal fires before. Reports indicate that the Ghost Ship wasn't exactly up to code (and had illegally been rented out for living space and studio space), and that the founder was not necessarily a careful custodian. [AP / Ellen Knickmeyer and Tim Rieterman]
- But this isn't a case of one bad apple. The fact that people were living in the Ghost Ship to begin with is an effect of the Bay Area's ongoing housing shortage — caused by an explosion of demand from tech workers and supply that is both insufficient and wildly expensive. [NBC News / Alyssa Newcomb]
- In some cases, people who can't afford to live in up-to-code buildings are in even worse shape if they report their conditions to authorities: The city simply seizes the building and turns it over to developers to turn it into housing the previous occupants can't afford. [The Guardian / Sam Levin]
- So when Gabe Meline warns his fellow bohemians that "it could have been any one of us" killed in a fire at an underground warehouse party, it's both countercultural solidarity and a warning about the costs of living on the margins. [KQED / Gabe Meline]
- A South Carolina judge has officially declared a mistrial in the case of Michael Slager, the police officer who killed Walter Scott. [Vox / German Lopez]
- President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, who has no policymaking or housing experience, to be secretary of Housing and Urban Development — which is a much more important Cabinet department than you probably think it is. [FiveThirtyEight / Andrew Flowers]
- This is nominally a review of the Gilmore Girls revival but it is also-slash-actually an essay about the passing of time, and it's great even if you have seen no Gilmore Girls. [LA Review of Books / Aaron Bady]
- In May, Barack Obama became the first US president to visit Hiroshima. In December, Shinzo Abe will become the first Japanese prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor. [NYT / Jonathan Soble]
- Endorsement from Dara: Election-related or nah, do something drastic with your hair in the waning days of 2016. Why not? [New York / Heidi Mitchell]
- "Several times my homemade vagina exploded water all over my kitchen." [The Sweethome / Rose Eveleth]
- "I’d rather be rude and healthy than compliant and obese." [Washington Post / Mike Riggs]
- "An investigation is under way into the leaking of a letter warning against leaks, Downing Street has said." [BBC]
- “S-1 stated that he had read online that the Comet restaurant was harboring child sex slaves and that he wanted to see for himself if they were there. S-1 stated he was armed to help rescue them. S-1 surrendered peacefully when he found no evidence that underage children were being harbored in the restaurant." [Criminal Court for the District of Columbia]
- "Marsilio Ficino, a highly respected fifteenth-century Italian scholar and priest, said that elderly people hoping to regain the spring in their step should 'suck the blood of an adolescent' who was 'clean, happy, temperate, and whose blood is excellent but perhaps a little excessive.'" [Lapham's Quarterly / Bess Lovejoy]
Watch this: What does it mean to be Muslim? There are 1.7 billion answers.
Muslim celebrities answer a surprisingly tricky question. [YouTube / Vox]