🏂 Happy Friday! Hope you're having a week of (mostly) peace.
- Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,189 words ... 4½ minutes.
1 big thing: The world's Muslims are facing unprecedented repression
Muslim minorities — from China to India and beyond — face discrimination, mass internment and extermination at the hands of their own governments, writes Axios China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, who recently was the lead writer on an international project exposing internal Chinese documents.
- The big picture: The global trend is rooted in the rise of authoritarian populism around the world.
- Increasingly, there's nowhere for them to run. Many countries around the world, not just the U.S., have put up immigration barriers targeting Muslims.
Things have never been worse for Muslims who are minorities in their home countries:
- China has built concentration camps for over a million Muslim ethnic minorities.
- Myanmar committed a "textbook" campaign of ethnic cleansing against its Rohingya minority, killing thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee.
- India just passed a citizenship law that excludes Muslims.
- The U.S. continues to implement a travel ban that is separating American Muslims (and others) from family members abroad.
The backdrop: These situations have arisen partly for localized reasons, but also because of sweeping global trends.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping, in internal documents reported by the N.Y. Times, "urged the party to emulate aspects of America's 'war on terror,'" as justification for policies that resulted in the ongoing detention of over a million Chinese Muslims.
- Muslims, always the top victims of Islamic terrorism, now face demonization in countries like Sri Lanka due to popular fears of Islam because of its association with extremist groups.
The bottom line: It's a very bad time to be a Muslim in a country that isn't predominantly Muslim. And the international community seems relatively unwilling to do much about it.
2. Data dive: The divide that kept '19 humming
Manufacturing activity slowed as businesses delayed spending because of the U.S.-China trade war, but consumers more than made up for it by spending at a solid pace, AP reports in a year-end data dive.
- Most economists expect modest growth in 2020.
3. Russia claims hypersonic weapon
Russia's defense minister reported to President Vladimir Putin that a new hypersonic weapon of intercontinental range — able to fly 27 times the speed of sound — entered combat duty today, AP reports from Moscow.
- Why it matters: Earlier this week, Putin said Russia is the only country armed with hypersonic weapons. He noted that for the first time in history, Russia is now leading the world in developing an entirely new class of weapons, unlike in the past when it was catching up with the U.S.
Putin unveiled the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle in March 2018, saying that its ability to make sharp maneuvers on its way to a target would render missile defense useless.
- Putin described the Avangard's creation as a technological breakthrough, comparable to the 1957 Soviet launch of the first satellite.
- "It heads to target like a meteorite, like a fireball," he said then.
4. Pics du jour
These photos show the annular — or "ring of fire" — solar eclipse, observed yesterday with the use of a solar filter in Siak, Riau province, Indonesia.
- The moon covers the sun’s center but leaves its outer edges visible. (Reuters)
5. Leaked video: SEALs describe Eddie Gallagher in dire terms
President Trump feted Eddie Gallagher at Mar-a-Lago last weekend after intervening in his war-crimes case, but the N.Y Times' Dave Phillips has obtained video interviews and group texts in which fellow SEALs tell Navy investigators that Gallagher was a reckless leader with a disturbing hunger for violence.
- Why it matters: The tapes, part of an episode of "The Weekly," are "the first opportunity outside the courtroom to hear directly from the men of Alpha platoon, SEAL Team 7, whose blistering testimony about their platoon chief was dismissed by President Trump when he upended the military code of justice to protect Chief Gallagher."
- "The guy is freaking evil," Special Operator First Class Craig Miller told investigators.
- "The guy was toxic," said Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper.
- "You could tell he was perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving," added Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon.
Keep reading (subscription).
6. Rahm to 2020 Dems: "Don't sink to Trump's level"
Rahm Emanuel — former Chicago mayor, and President Obama's first White House chief of staff — argues in a WashPost op-ed that the paradoxical split-screen of impeachment and USMCA compromise with President Trump earlier this month "presents Democrats with an opportunity" for 2020.
- Why it matters: He believes Americans "are in search of someone who will provide a more accurate picture of how much we agree on, someone who will shine a light on how we can rise above the conflicts that divide us."
Rahm's 2020 plan: "The surest path to victory is to prevent Trump from playing the victim or anti-establishment outsider — and to ensure that we never let him infect our message with his invective."
- Keep reading (subscription).
7. Remembering Bill Greider, 83
"William Greider, a reporter, editor and popular author who examined the United States, its politics and its position in the world through an economic lens for four decades for The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Nation and other media outlets, died ... at his home in Washington," the N.Y. Times' Kit Seelye writes.
- "Greider’s most influential piece of writing was an essay in The Atlantic in 1981 titled ''The Education of David Stockman,' which caused a national uproar."
- Stockman, President Reagan’s budget director, "revealed his skepticism about the supply-side theory of economics": "None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers."
- Stockman later said he was "taken to the woodshed" by Reagan.
💭 Greider's son, Cameron, told the Times: "He was disaffected from the day-to-day mechanics of politics ... but he was never disaffected from the notion that America could live up to its promise."
8. 🗞️ 1 —30— thing: Why the Newseum is closing forever
The Newseum hailed the free press, but got beaten by free museums, AP's Ashraf Khalil writes:
- The Newseum — a private museum (originally funded with Gannett riches) dedicated to exploring modern history as told through the eyes of journalists — opened 11 years ago on prime real estate on Pennsylvania Avenue.
- The glass-walled building, almost equidistant between the White House and the Capitol, became instantly recognizable for its multi-story exterior rendition of the First Amendment (pic below).
After nearly 10 million visitors but years of financial difficulties, the Newseum will close its doors on Tuesday, New Year's Eve:
- The building was sold for $372.5 million to Johns Hopkins University, which will consolidate its scattered Washington-based graduate studies programs under one roof.
- A Newseum ticket costs $25 for adults, and the building is right across the street from the National Gallery of Art, and within blocks of multiple free Smithsonian museums.
- Exhibits during the Newseum's final days included an exploration of the cultural and political influence of Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show," a look at the history of the struggle for LGBTQ rights and a display depicting the history of presidential dogs.
The Newseum's homepage says, "We're on deadline":
- "In early 2020, ... deinstallation of its exhibits will begin and artifacts will be moved to a state-of-the-art support center where they will be housed and maintained. The collection will continue to circulate for outgoing loans, educational programs, public events, digital initiatives and more."
- "[T]he Newseum's popular Today’s Front Pages, which digitally displays nearly 1,000 newspaper’s front pages each day from around the world, will continue after the Dec.31 closing."