Morning Update: The Drones That Stole Christmas

James Mattis resigns as defense secretary, drones shut down a London airport runway, your holiday weekend longreads. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, Dec. 21.

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Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned over disagreements with Trump

At first, President Trump tweeted that Mattis will retire in February. But the defense secretary’s resignation letter made it clear that the decision was not exactly harmonious.

The news comes a day after Trump announced he’d withdraw troops from Syria, which Mattis opposes, and amid reports that he may also pull the US out of Afghanistan.

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects,” Mattis wrote, “I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”

Mattis was, until the last few months, considered a steady presence in Trump’s volatile Cabinet. Trump often bashes members of his administration, but he gave the retired general rare reverence.

👉In his letter, Mattis wrote about treating US allies with respect. The UK, one of America’s closest allies, only found out Trump was withdrawing from Syria after he tweeted about it.

London’s Gatwick Airport has resumed flights after drones shut down the runway

Flights are slowly starting to take off again after tens of thousands of passengers were stranded for 36 hours because of drones seen flying over the airfield.

The army was called in to deploy special equipment to clear the devices, which police said couldn't be taken down with guns because of the danger of stray bullets.

Police believe the drones were “a deliberate act to disrupt the airport,” but say “there are absolutely no indications to suggest this is terror-related.”


House Republicans voted to give Trump his border wall money, and now a shutdown is more likely than ever. The president refuses to sign a funding bill that doesn’t provide money for the construction of the wall. If Congress can’t reach a deal by Friday night, several government agencies will run out of funding.

The Kardashian apps are shutting down because content doesn’t pay. The sisters announced they will stop adding new material to their subscription apps at the end of the year. Each app cost $2.99 a month, and had its own content — a mix of exclusive photos of each sister and some editorial bits.

I hate to break it to you, but the glitter bomb package video is pretty much staged. Remember when we were all so excited about this nice thing? Lesson learned: We can’t have nice things. Internet sleuths noticed some irregularities, and long story short, at least two reactions appear to be faked.

Natalie Portman addressed rumors that she’s returning for Star Wars: Episode IX. “I'm guessing that's not true because I don't know about it yet,” she said.

Literally one just giant list of all of Facebook’s scandals in 2018. No, seriously, the list is very long.

New York lawmakers say they were blindsided by the Amazon HQ2 deal and want to ban nondisclosure agreements

When Amazon chose the cities that will be home to its new headquarters, it made a splash. But not everyone is happy with the way it all went down.

The company made cities sign nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) — meaning that some details of the tax breaks and incentives that Amazon gets will remain secret. Now, politicians in New York are angry, saying NDAs with tech giants are bad for democracy.

At the heart of the issue is this: How much power should these tech companies have? If the contracts can’t be negotiated in public, cities may give in to companies’ demands without publicly elected officials getting a say.

Read Davey Alba’s report on the lawmakers who are fed up with this secretive practice.


Ever watch the Oscars and think, “Wow, I haven't heard of any of these movies?” That's why we're starting the Oscars Guide newsletter! Every Friday, get the latest news on all things Academy Awards, including expert opinions and essays that dive deeper into the year's most talked-about releases.

Sign up for the Oscars Guide newsletter here, and we’ll help you win your awards ballot this year.

Sneak in a thoughtful read when you need a break from your family

2018 Wore Me The Hell Out. If this year took a lot out of you, you’re not alone. Scaachi Koul’s thoughtful reflection on the past 12 months will resonate with you: “This feeling is bigger than burnout; it’s an almost cosmic kind of hopelessness... Find someone who’s tired like you, who will take care of you when you’re too exhausted to do it yourself, and who will fight the fight when you can’t lift your arms anymore.”

Why I’ve Had Trouble Buying Hollywood’s Version Of Girl Power. 2018 saw a lot of movies about cheerful triumphs of women. Our film critic Alison Willmore found no comfort in these films: “What I find myself craving more and more is discomfort — depictions of how messy and complicated and difficult it is to be a woman or a girl in this world. And those films were out there too — they were just, maybe unsurprisingly, deemed to be tougher sells.”

2018 Was The Year Of #MeToo. For 2019, We Asked #WhatNow? The #MeToo movement has become a regular part of our lexicon. That’s really significant. But what follows that? We put together a package of stories about where the movement goes from here.



A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.