He’s gunning for change. Today the U.S. president introduced new executive orders that will include licensing requirements and background checks for firearm sales online or at gun shows, funding for mental health care and greater enforcement. Obama is calling on federal agencies to advance technology to prevent guns from being accidentally fired or used by unauthorized persons. The provisions, according to the White House, don’t contradict the Second Amendment — but with Republicans like Rand Paul vowing to fight it “tooth and nail,” it’s certain to face challenges on Capitol Hill and in court.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re getting a little help from their friends. After Riyadh told Iranian diplomats to get out within the next 48 hours, Saudi Arabia’s allies followed suit. Tensions are spiraling between the longtime sectarian rivals following the Saudi execution of top Shiite Muslim cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Bahrain has told Iranians to vacate, Sudan expelled an ambassador from Tehran and UAE has restricted its diplomatic dealings with the Islamic Republic. Saudi officials, meanwhile, have evacuated their embassy in Iran, and many fear this war of words will escalate and further destabilize the region.
They’re adding fuel to the fire. After father and son ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond were told they must serve four more years in prison for torching federal land, armed anti-government protesters responded this weekend by seizing empty administrative buildings on a government refuge. Today the Hammonds reportedly surrendered peacefully to authorities. But those fighting on their behalf, and for the so-called liberation of public lands, are vowing to stay put, drawing a deeper line in the sand between ranchers and federal officials.
They’re trying to protect public health. The U.S. Justice Department has long been seen as a potential foe for the car manufacturer in the wake of the revelation that it’s been cheating on emissions tests, and on Monday they filed a civil suit. In all 50 states and several countries the world over, investigations are already underway into the extent of Volkwagen’s misdeeds — but many hope that in this case, executives may see personal punishment for sanctioning the malfeasance. The Justice Department will only say that discussions on a “path to resolution” are ongoing.
So much for a happy New Year. The first trading day spelled disaster on Wall Street, with a more than 330-point Dow plunge as trading opened, and in Asia, where market falls triggered China’s new circuit breaker and halted trading. The Nasdaq dipped more than 2 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 6.9 percent and the Shenzhen Composite to a nine-year low of 8.2 percent. Analysts blame poor Chinese manufacturing data for triggering volatility in European and American markets — and a decidedly shaky start to 2016.
This is bordering on madness … for commuters. Swedish authorities, in a bid to stem the number of refugees flooding the country, have begun checking IDs of those traveling from Denmark. Anyone using ferries or crossing the Oresund Bridge by vehicle or train will be turned back unless they have the right documents. Thousands cross the border daily, and they’re now facing 30-minute delays to their 40-minute commute, prompting some to consider moving or switching jobs as new controls cast doubt on freedom of movement in Europe’s Schengen Area.
6.7-magnitude temblor kills at least six in northeastern India. (CNN)
Ex-Officer charged with killing unarmed man released on bail (USA Today)
British intelligence officers scrutinize ‘ISIS’ video. (BBC)
Japan seeks to resolve World War II dispute with Russia. (DW)
Mark Zuckerberg is building AI to help him around the house. (BI)
“You’re now one-man bands,” a tweet quipped about reporters, photographers and editors of the Pulitzer Prize-winning paper, who pitched in after a new delivery service suffered a few hiccups. It started as a newsroom joke, but “people started really liking the idea,” said one reporter, and more than 100 editorial staffers volunteered to deliver Sunday’s edition, helping ensure it reached 205,000 subscribers. The Globe says it’ll sort out the snafus as soon as possible to free up journalists’ time for reporting, rather than making, the news.
Tourism’s not having a whale of a time. Normally, 10,000 humpbacks have already migrated from Alaska to Hawaii, delighting winter tourists. But this year the whales are reportedly few and far between. Biologists say it could be due to El Niño, or because a surging population needs longer to forage for food before making the long journey. So while their late arrival is frustrating those who make a living escorting out-of-towners to see these gentle giants, it may actually indicate a healthier humpback population.
Time to play hard. China created the world’s second-largest economy largely by encouraging a workaholic culture, with six-day weeks and long hours. But Beijing needs its economy to grow, so it’s encouraging citizens to go out on weekends — when many still work — and spend. Leaders have even issued a memo encouraging companies to send workers home early on Fridays. Some hope this will signal a major shift in China’s attitude toward work, but others fear it’ll hurt world markets as imports that support Chinese manufacturing take a hit.
He helped us see things in a new light. The Close Encounters of the Third Kind Oscar-winning cinematographer shot a number of iconic films, earning Academy Award nominations for The Deer Hunter, The River and The Black Dahlia. The Hungarian native became a U.S. citizen in 1962 and created a signature style that incorporated European filming techniques with natural lighting and a muted color palette. American Society of Cinematographers President Richard Crudo said Zsigmond changed not just the way movies look, but “the way we look at them as well.”
He had a field day. The 39-year-old made a dramatic return yesterday, helping engineer a come-from-behind 27-20 win over San Diego. He started the game in the backup role, replacing a struggling Brock Osweiler in the third quarter. The five-time MVP led the Broncos to four straight scoring drives and is expected to steer clear of the bench. Denver is now the No. 1 seed in the AFC, with home field advantage, and needs just two wins to advance to the Super Bowl.