Happy Friday! We’d like to wish all our readers who are celebrating a very Merry Christmas, and safe travels if you’re heading home for the holidays. We’ll be back in your inboxes on Wednesday!
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke on Thursday with his Chinese counterpart for the first time since taking up the post in October. The conversation revived high-level military-to-military communications between the two countries that had been on hiatus since August 2022, when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan prompted Beijing to cut off the channel. “Gen. Brown discussed the importance of working together to responsibly manage competition, avoid miscalculations, and maintain open and direct lines of communication,” according to an official readout of the conversation. “Gen. Brown reiterated the importance of the People’s Liberation Army engaging in substantive dialogue to reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings.”
- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet is expected to announce this morning that it will sell advanced air defense weapons to the U.S. The easing of weapons export rules, which have been in place since the end of World War II, is part of a more proactive Japanese defense policy. Japan plans to transfer several dozen Patriot missiles to the U.S.—a move that could further help the U.S. support Ukrainian war efforts.
- A gunman shot and killed at least 14 people and injured dozens more on Thursday evening in downtown Prague, when he opened fire in the philosophy building of Charles University. The 24-year-old shooter, who was a student at the Czech university, also died, though it was unclear whether he killed himself or was shot by authorities. Czech police said they believe the gunman—who purchased several weapons legally—killed his father earlier in the day in his hometown west of Prague, and may also be connected to the killing of a man and his infant daughter last week. Authorities didn’t share any motive for the school attack, but said there was no indication it was related to a terrorist organization affiliation. The shooting is the worst in modern Czech history.
- On November 17, 2020, then-President Donald Trump personally called two members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers in Michigan and pressured them not to certify the 2020 election results, The Detroit News reported Thursday night. “We’ve got to fight for our country,” Trump said on the recordings. “We can’t let these people take our country away from us.” The recordings involve conversations between Trump, Monica Palmer, and William Hartmann—two Republican canvassers in Wayne County—as well as Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. The former president and RNC chair urged the two canvassers not to sign documents certifying the election. “If you can go home tonight, do not sign it,” McDaniel said during the call. “We will get you attorneys.” The recording echoes a similar call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, in which the former president pushed for the overturning of official presidential vote counts in the state.
A Very Dispatch Christmas
As we put a (festive) bow on the final newsletter before we take a quick break to spend quality time with loved ones, we wanted to share a few of our favorite holiday traditions—and we can’t wait to read about yours in the comments!
Mary Trimble, TMD Reporter: I’m incredibly blessed to be spending Christmas in Germany, where my parents live. After six months of being separated—across three cities on two continents—I’m more grateful than ever to be enjoying the holiday season with my family. Over the last few days, we’ve been braving the cold to do a full tour of the local Christmas markets, buying gifts for each other (and the occasional treat for ourselves) as we wandered through beautiful old town squares all decked out for the season. We’ve also been stuffing our faces with tasty German market fare: kartoffelpuffer (fried potato pancakes), bratwurst (needs no explanation), and kinderpunsch (a tasty mulled fruit cider meant for kids but good for adults, too).
The best part of any Christmas, for me, is the time I get to spend with my favorite people. This weekend, we’ll be leaning into the “weather outside is frightful, let it snow, etc.” of it all, watching our favorite holiday classics (White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and, if I get my way, The Bishop’s Wife—Cary Grant plays an angel!), trying to finish an incredibly difficult, 1,000-piece puzzle taking up valuable real estate on the dining room table, and munching on all the treats stashed in various festive tins. For a few special days, our busy lives will slow and our world will quiet as we await the miracle of Christ’s birth. And what a gift that is.