Gunmen marched into the luxury Splendid Hotel in the capital Ouagadougou today, exchanging gunfire with security and taking hostages. At least 20 have reportedly been killed, and Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the attack. Several more are wounded, and officials say a military raid will be launched to free the hostages. Having recently elected a new president, ending a period of upheaval following Blaise Compaore’s overthrow, this attack is also taking aim at newly inaugurated President Roch Marc Christian Kabore’s commitment to democracy.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Who needs enemies with friends like these? Only weeks before the primaries, the sixth Republican debate became a bar brawl between former pals turned rivals. Donald Trump questioned whether Canadian-born Ted Cruz was eligible for the presidency — and Cruz, who’d played buddy-buddy until this point, fought back by questioning Trump’s “New York values.” Soon, everyone joined in: Marco Rubio and Chris Christie tussled and Jeb Bush piled on Trump. But as candidates jockeyed to differentiate themselves, their only real consensus was “not Hillary.”
Have they scored some new territory? The Somali terrorist group allied with al-Qaida is known for inflating its own achievements. But today they claim to have captured an African Union base in southern Somalia, along with a nearby town, and to have killed more than 60 Kenyan soldiers. The Kenyan army, meanwhile, says al-Shabab never attacked the Kenyan base, but instead a nearby Somali outpost. Now al-Shabab says it’s confiscated weapons and military vehicles left inside the camp — which is bad news no matter whose camp it was.
It’s not fit for human consumption. One person has been left brain-dead, and five more have been hospitalized — three with possible brain damage — after 90 participated in an oral drug trial in a private lab in Rennes for respected French firm Biotrial. It’s not clear which drug was involved, and the chief neuroscientist says there is no known antidote. The trial has been suspended, and France’s health ministry is investigating the situation while hoping no one else needs hospitalization.
This was planned a continent away. That’s the assertion from Jakarta Police Chief Tito Karnavian, who says an ISIS militant believed to be in Syria masterminded the attack — partly through a terrorism how-to blog written in the Bahasa Indonesia language. Today, one suspect died in a shoot-out with police and three were arrested in connection with Thursday’s attack, which many worry is just the beginning of a new campaign of terror in Indonesia. For now, authorities are tailing another suspect, believed to be hiding in the port city of Poso.
Investors will have to settle for less. The agreement, pending approval from the Justice Department, includes a $2.4 billion civil penalty, $875 million in cash and $1.8 billion in “consumer relief,” which will include loan forgiveness for underwater homeowners and support for affordable housing. The bank was accused of selling mortgage securities that were likely to fail to unwitting customers in the lead-up to the financial crisis. This settlement will reportedly reduce Goldman’s Q4 profits by $1.5 billion — though its quarterly report won’t drop until Jan. 20.
Oil slides below $30, Dow drops 391 points. (WSJ)
Two U.S. military helicopters collide near Oahu, Hawaii. (BBC)
Actor Dan Haggerty, of ‘Grizzly Adams’ fame, dies at age 73. (Access Hollywood)
U.S., Mexico begin talks on El Chapo’s extradition. (Reuters)
Planned Parenthood files lawsuit over “sting” video. (Washington Post)
Actor Alan Rickman dead at 69. (The Guardian)
Tour bus plunges off mountain road in Japan, killing 14. (CNN)
Criminal trial of former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra begins. (Bloomberg)
Former TV comic sworn in as president of Guatemala. (BBC)
They’re waging a war of words. Activists and writers around the globe organized 120 events in 44 countries last night on behalf of a Palestinian refugee poet sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for blasphemy. Ashraf Fayadh maintains his innocence, saying his poems are about “cultural and philosophical issues” and have been misinterpreted by religious extremists. The Berlin International Literature Festival organized the readings, and they’re urging the U.K. and U.S. to have a word with their Gulf friends — but thus far the Saudis are refusing to comment.
This could keep you up at night. Researchers studied the brains of hundreds of senior citizens and found that those who experienced more sleep fragmentation — repeated awakenings — were 27 percent more likely to have hardened blood vessels in their brains. And the more their sleep was disrupted, the more oxygen-deprived their brain tissue appeared. Both factors increase risk for strokes and cognitive impairment. Though more research is needed, the findings suggest that approaches like sleep monitoring could help reduce the risk of strokes in the elderly.
Talk about putting yourself on silent mode. That’s what students at New Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College are doing, after they voted to only allow mobile phones on campus on alternate days. Seventy percent of them voted in favor of the rule at an assembly meeting — they’re worried that too much phone usage can be psychologically and physically unhealthy, and modeled the restriction on their city government’s program to control air pollution by making cars alternate days off the road. It’s a voluntary scheme, but many oft-ignored professors are likely hoping it catches on.
Think inside the box. Logistics-savvy companies are offering a ministorage solution to the crate-sized dwellings of modern city life. Customers fill boxes, conveniently delivered to their doorsteps, with everything from Christmas decorations to baby clothes. Firms then return to whisk the contents away to warehouses for safekeeping, charging a small monthly fee per box for what one calls ”an extension of their closet.” Marie Kondo might not approve, but these tiny storage companies are chasing a slice of the massive $500 billion the storage industry is expected to make in 2017.
The noms are in, now who’s predicted to win? The Revenant leads the pack and star Leonardo DiCaprio is a favorite to finally take home Best Actor. Still, the loudest cheers in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater greeted Sylvester Stallone’s nomination for Creed — but can he shake off decades of baggage? The big categories are predictably highly competitive, with films like Spotlight and The Big Short in the mix. But one thing’s already certain — and riling critics: For the second year running, no acting nominations went to people of color.
It was a day of big hires. Former Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly was only out of a job a few weeks before being hired by San Francisco, where fans hope he’ll gel with struggling quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Meanwhile, Kelly’s former team has reportedly settled on Doug Pederson, but won’t officially announce it until the season ends because he’s still on Kansas City’s payroll. And finally, New York revealed they’re elevating offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to the top spot. Each faces a major rebuild — and the season isn’t even over.