It’s an explosive theory. But U.S. and British intelligence suggests the Russian Metrojet airliner — which broke up in midair over the Sinai Peninsula, killing 224 — was destroyed by an onboard bomb. Egypt denies ISIS claims that they downed the aircraft, while Russians call the bomb theory “speculation,” saying it’s too early to tell. But noting the likelihood of sabotage, U.K. officials have suspended all flights in and out of the popular resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, stranding vacationing Brits until security can be improved.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re giving ’em high hopes. Yesterday Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that four plaintiffs had the right to consume and produce marijuana for personal use. While the decision doesn’t reverse the country’s tough anti-drug laws, it does green-light efforts to push for marijuana’s legalization. It also reflects frustration over the apparently ineffective laws aimed at curbing the country’s infamous drug trade and related violence. Only about 2 percent of Mexicans smoked dope in the past year, but a legalization campaign could help keep them out of prison.
Did they mislead their investors? The state’s attorney general is launching an inquiry to discover whether the oil giant has been lying to the public — and to those who dropped money on the company — about fossil fuels since the 1970s. They’ve demanded Exxon turn over emails and financial records, and will focus on whether the company suppressed legitimate scientific research on climate change in a quest to maximize its profits. Wall Street analysts say this could pile on problems for the already-beleaguered company — and stretch on for years.
Does dad always know best? The 41st U.S. president reportedly told biographer Jon Meacham that his son George W. was poorly served by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. Bush Sr. labeled Rumsfeld an “arrogant fellow,” while noting how Cheney was allowed — by the 43rd president — to build “his own empire” and become too “hard-line” and “very different from the Dick Cheney I knew.” The revelations, along with thoughts on his own presidency, will hit bookstore shelves next week.
They’ve taken it by the horns. Just months after summer currency devaluations, share sell-offs and reports of an economic slowdown — to the tune of a $5 trillion bust — China is now in a bull market. The Shanghai Composite is up 20 percent since its end-of-August low, with the benchmark finishing up 1.8 percent today. A historic turnaround, it signals how investors are beginning to take the government’s lead in supporting prices and buying into a “new economy” focused more on technology and service than on manufacturing.
Justin Trudeau is sworn in as prime minister of Canada. (AFP)
Victims use phones to call for help amid factory rubble in Lahore, Pakistan. (Reuters)
Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi says she’ll be ‘above the president’ if party wins. (BBC)
U.S. national debt sees record one-day increase. (USA Today)
VW taken to task over governance. (FT) sub
Details of Trans-Pacific Partnership made public. (NBC)
They’ll fly you to the moon and let you play among the stars … if you have a science degree and 1,000 hours experience piloting a jet. American astronauts — notably numbering just 47, compared to 149 in 2000 — have recently been hitching rides on Russian shuttles. Now NASA wants new recruits who will fly on commercially built vehicles or its own deep-space Orion capsule, and could even make history aboard a manned Mars mission. Applications will be accepted Dec. 14 until mid-February, and candidates must be “willing to travel.”
Rich friends sure are handy. But both Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are relying much more heavily than their competitors on big-money donors, which could hurt them as primary season unwinds. Contributors who regularly give just a little money can sustain a campaign, whereas election law forbids major patrons from giving again until the general election. Clinton has fewer challengers, so this may be more of an issue for Bush, but both need to woo more small-fry donors to rack up a chance to win.
It aims to stay. After helping defeat San Francisco legislation that would have put sharp limits on short-term rentals, the house-sharing startup is going on the offensive to thwart similar measures elsewhere. While opponents argue that landlords are pulling rental homes off the market in favor of short-term stays, the company is declaring plans for a political movement defending Airbnb as an “economic lifeline” for middle-class hosts and guests. The company plans to support 100 new home-sharing clubs nationwide, and later internationally, to tackle future regulatory assaults.
She made us fall in love with an alien. The 65-year-old Los Angeles native — who also penned screenplays for The Black Stallion and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun, befriended the Dali Lama and was married to Harrison Ford for 21 years — succumbed yesterday to a longtime battle with neuroendocrine cancer. Steven Spielberg remembers her for having a heart that “burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T.” Mathison reunited with the famed director a final time last year to adapt Roald Dahl’s The BFG, due out in July 2016.
This play’s under review. The U.S. Department of Defense spent $10 million of taxpayer money from 2012-2015 on military tributes at NFL games and other sporting events. This “paid patriotism” ranged from full-field flag displays to close-ups of troops on the jumbotron. After a year-long investigation, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have revealed 122 contracts between the military and pro teams for advertisements to boost PR and recruitment. They now hope to get the “inappropriate and frivolous” practice banned, and the NFL says it will return the money.