Chaos in the skies strikes the U.K. The technical failure hit the Swanwick control centre that handles air traffic in England and Wales. Heathrow Airport reports delays and could turn away flights. Gatwick has grounded all departing flights. Passengers report being stuck on planes. Thousands of travelers are impacted, and it won’t be until 7 p.m. local time that planes may once again fly over London.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The deluge comes ashore. The so-called “Pineapple Express” roared into the West Coast with epic rains and hurricane-force winds that closed highways and forced high-water rescues from cars and homes. Mudslides hammered one town, fallen trees proved fatal, schools closed and a San Francisco icon lost power as roads started resembling rivers. Passes closed in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and Lake Tahoe waves rose high enough to surf. Plains states, take heed — this weekend, you’re next.
They got it through. With mere hours to spare, 57 House Democrats — perhaps worried the GOP will give them a harder pill to swallow next year — helped carry the bill to fund the government through the summer. There was much to dislike on both sides: Republicans couldn’t defund Obama’s immigration overhaul, and Democrats opposed loosened banking regulations. The 219-206 vote sends the measure to the Senate, which approved a two-day extension, keeping the lights on while debate continues.
Gas up, drivers. Oil prices that tumbled even more Friday haven’t spurred corresponding buying, prompting the International Energy Agency to slash demand forecasts for next year. A weak global economy remains to blame, the IEA says. A strong dollar works against oil demand too, as other nations lose monetary traction. The stock market dipped at the news , with the Dow down some 200 points. At least one expert predicts oil prices may hit $45 a barrel before the market evens out.
A new era dawns. Or at least, a little bit of a breather. A truce between Ukrainian soldiers and rebels didn’t exactly mean the end to attacks, but considering the last cease-fire went down in flames, both sides welcomed the break. Kiev isn’t hedging anything though, as the military seeks to double spending next year and draft 40,000 soldiers. The usually confident Putin looks a little wan these days, so perhaps Russia’s woes are having an impact.
Though long derided for its antediluvian attitude toward climate change, America’s aggressive new plans to reform emissions regulations are already warming hearts. As the climate summit in Peru draws to a close, U.S. negotiators have been met with unheard-of praise from partners who say the country now has “credible” policies to back its tough-on-carbon talk. Aside from its historic climate deal with China, the Obama administration’s regulatory changes would shutter the country’s most-polluting coal plants.
Preliminary human trials in Geneva have been suspended a week early after four of 59 volunteers complained of joint pain. Officials want to make sure the side effect is “benign and temporary,” so they’re canceling this trial and will resume testing the Ebola vaccine next month. The fight against the epidemic — which has killed more than 6,500 people during this outbreak — gained new urgency as health workers in Sierra Leone discovered scores of unreported victims in an area previously thought to be under control.
Economists call this good news: U.S. household debt equals 108 percent of disposable income. That’s the lowest level in a decade, and people are beginning to borrow money again. Hopes are high that between low gas prices and relatively low debt levels, consumers might even increase spending and boost the economy. Wealth gains are not shared equally, though: the rich get richer more easily, and there are racial divides, too. But reputedly loan-crazy Americans are now less in hock than Britons, Canadians or the Japanese.
Torture report hid material at UK’s request. (The Guardian)
Indian IT exec fingered as author of ISIS tweets. (SMH)
Christian radio host gets 40 years in pedophilia case. (USA Today)
UN voices ‘serious concern’ about Taliban attacks in Kabul. (AFP)
Storm causes flooding, paralyzes Northern California. (LA Times)
The student has become the master. After Steve Jobs’ untimely death, Tim Cook took the reins at Apple and slayed the naysayers by maintaining — maybe exceeding — his mentor’s stunning success. He also carved out his own identity — for one thing, becoming the Fortune 500’s first openly gay CEO — while unveiling a storm of enticing products, including iPhone 6, Apple Pay and Apple Watch, and elevating the tech giant to an unprecedented market cap of $700 billion. Somewhere, Steve is smirking.
There’s a lesson in this. Gov. Steve Beshear hoped to stimulate his state’s economy by offering tax breaks to a planned Noah’s Ark theme park with a 510-foot ark replica and other Old Testament attractions. But the Biblically proportioned ship has run aground against the Constitution’s prohibition of mixing matters of church and state. The park’s discriminatory hiring practices — requiring creation-belief statements and “salvation testimony” from potential employees — mean it won’t be netting the $18 million of state largess.
Call it the motorcycle itineraries. Ride a Harley around Cuba like the planet’s most-worn revolutionary, on a tour arranged by none other than Ernesto Guevara, the 49-year-old son of the South American guerrilla. The elder Guevara’s 1951 ride from Argentina to Venezuela became the stuff of Marxist legend and was dramatized in the 2004 biopic The Motorcycle Diaries . The younger Guevara’s tour provides five-star accommodations and comes with a top-end price tag of $5,800. The proletariat will have to settle for T-shirts.
Seriously, this is a cultural moment. The demise of the magazine devoted entirely to fondness for felines says a lot about zeitgeist. Niche content doesn’t work when your subject attracts 15 percent of all Web traffic. Instead of instructions for combing Persians, think listicles and lolcats. After 49 years, Cat Fancy is passing the torch to Catster, a new mag more in tune with current appetites for the ironic, outrageous and totally random — like obese cats landing in slow motion. Now that’s purrfect.
Penalty: false start. After a series of domestic violence incidents, the league enacted strict new personal conduct policies Wednesday. Unfortunately it ignored a key factor: The players have a union. An NFL Players Association executive says the group will contest the rules, which were released without input from the players’ legal representatives. Why? One key point is that benching accused players violates their legal rights. In other words, every player is innocent until proven guilty — no matter how much his presence embarrasses the game.