Missed deadline, lost lives
• After a deadly commuter train crash in California nine years ago, Congress ordered all passenger railroads to install automatic-braking systems by 2016.
But the deadline was extended, and preventable crashes such as Monday’s deadly accident in Washington State keep happening.
Railroads have cited the cost and complexity of adding the technology, called positive train control, estimating a total price of more than $10 billion.
• “We put a man on the moon 50 years ago, faster than we’ve been able to implement positive train control,” a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board said. “I mean, come on.”
Developing: S.U.V. plows into crowd in Australia
• The driver of the vehicle that injured at least 14 people, including a child, in Melbourne today committed “a deliberate act,” the police said.
Two people have been arrested, though their names were not released.
• The police have not said if the case is being investigated as a possible act of terrorism.
Listen to ‘The Daily’: Sexual Harassment at Ford
Decades after the company tried to tackle sexual misconduct at two plants, new allegations of abuse raise questions about the possibility of change.
• Dozens of major employers — including Amazon, Goldman Sachs and Target — placed recruitment ads on Facebook that were limited to particular age groups, an investigation by ProPublica and The Times found.
Facebook defended the practice, but several experts questioned whether it violated anti-discrimination laws.
• Glenn Thrush, a prominent political reporter at The Times accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, will remain suspended until late January and will then be removed from the team covering the White House.
“While we believe that Glenn has acted offensively, we have decided that he does not deserve to be fired,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor, said.
• The author of the short story “Cat Person,” which was shared widely on social media after appearing in The New Yorker this month, is said to have received a seven-figure book deal.
• U.S. stocks were down on Wednesday. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.
Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.
• Learn how to solve The New York Times crossword. (Beginners welcome.)
• Sexual harassment training isn’t enough. Here are things that work.
• Recipe of the day: Try roasted salmon glazed with brown sugar and mustard.
• Dancing down the years
Today’s 360 video continues our series in which dancers of retirement age reflect on why they’re still practicing. “The body has this incredible way of healing itself and finding itself anew,” Brenda Bufalino, 80, said.
• Catalonia votes, again
Today’s election could decide whether the Spanish region persists in its drive for independence or seeks a settlement with the central government after months of feuding. Here’s what to watch for.
• One-vote win lasts for one day
A day after a recount gave Democrats a single-vote victory in a Virginia House of Delegates race, a panel of judges declared the race tied. Control of the House may be decided by the equivalent of a coin toss.
• It’s the shortest day of the year
Or the longest, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere.
We explain how the winter solstice works, and why humans might not exist without it.
• The year in sports
Relive the incredible comebacks, unbelievable shots and memorable performances of 2017.
• Best of late-night TV
Samantha Bee discussed the small group of evangelical Christians who pushed for Jerusalem to be recognized as Israel’s capital. “Of course, Armageddon is the one thing that Trump happens to get done with absolute precision,” she said.
• Quotation of the day
“This has been a year of extraordinary accomplishment for the Trump administration.”
— Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, who has often been at odds with the president, celebrating the passage of the tax overhaul.
This is the time of year the Krampus, a mythical, furry, horned beast, prowls cities and towns in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps, scaring away evil spirits and reminding naughty children that Christmas is around the corner.
The tradition of the Krampus, a mountain goblin who is an evil counterpart to the good St. Nicholas, has recently enjoyed a revival. Even before the 2015 Hollywood horror version brought the tradition to millions of Americans, a new generation of Germans and Austrians was reviving a tradition cherished in childhood.
Dozens of “runs,” or parades of people dressed in horned masks and carrying whips or bells, take over towns in southern Germany and Austria from the last weeks of November to Dec. 23.
In a 2014 appearance on “The Tonight Show,” the actor Christoph Waltz explained Krampus to an American audience: the Austrian answer to Elf on the Shelf.
The Krampus, he said, does not just spy on kids and report back to Santa, but arrives with a stick, a bag and threats. “If you weren’t good, you get stuck in the bag and hit and shipped off,” he said.
Modern Krampus parades, however, are bound by strictly enforced rules, including no drinking and no hitting. Scaring children and tourists is allowed, but not sticking anyone in a bag.
Melissa Eddy contributed reporting.
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