Time to start shoveling. After being blamed for some 19 deaths, the historic snowfall that paralyzed tens of millions of East Coast residents, registered 40 inches in one West Virginia town and set a record 29.2 inches in Baltimore is finally over. As many as 10,000 flights were canceled, hundreds of thousands of homes lost power, cities shuttered public transit and 11 states declared emergencies, from Georgia to New York. “Snowmageddon,” as it was also known, will go on the books as one of history’s worst.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The snow didn’t do this. North Carolina authorities detained a motorist after he spun out on a snowy road near Charlotte and allegedly killed a would-be rescuer. Three men driving by stopped to help, but “they thought he was drunk or on dope, and said ‘let’s just call the law,’” explained Catawaba County Sheriff Coy Reid. The driver allegedly shot at the men with an automatic pistol, hitting one, whom he shot again “numerous times” as he lay injured. Police using an armored vehicle arrested the man, but it’s unclear what charges he might face.
Snow or no, things are heating up, says OZY’s Nick Fouriezos, as candidates head into the homestretch before the Hawkeye State’s Feb. 1 caucuses. Hillary Clinton is sending celebrity surrogates to rallies as rival Democrat Bernie Sanders’ polling numbers close in. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz-wary GOP senators are rallying behind Donald Trump, who said he could “shoot someone” and not lose voters just as polls showed him taking the lead in Iowa. If that’s not enough, ex-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg (pictured), an independent who’s been a Republican and a Democrat, may be joining the fray.
After 250,000 deaths, could it have helped? As nations argue over who’s representing whom at next week’s Geneva talks, the Russian president is denying a report he sent an envoy asking the Syrian leader to step down. OZY contributor and former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin says resolving the conflict must be a priority, as it affects everything from ISIS and oil to the flow of refugees through Europe. Officials say the disputes over representation might cost a few days past Monday’s scheduled start, but the negotiations will take place.
Traders enjoyed a well-earned breather after a hectic week. When crude slipped below $30 a barrel, a worldwide sell-off had Wall Street praying for relief. Until Thursday, that is, when oil mercifully crept back over $30, alongside talk of a greater European Central Bank stimulus. On Friday, indexes around the world surged, led by a nearly 6-percent increase in Japan’s Nikkei. Volatility has also been exacerbated by concerns over China’s slump. But Princeton economist Burton Malkiel says we shouldn’t worry, because China’s economy — especially in the service and consumer sectors — is still growing.
They prefer no fun under the sun. While global travel was up 4.4 percent last year, terrorism contributed to regional ruts. Egypt saw visits plummet from 14 million in 2010 to a projected 9 million this year, and North Africa overall had an 8 percent decline in 2015. Countries like Tunisia, where 400,000 people work in the tourism industry, are facing economic crisis as hotels close in the wake of ISIS shootings. Terrorism in Jakarta, Burkina Faso and Istanbul, meanwhile, threatens to bring tourist-dependent economies to their knees.
Strong Earthquake Hits Southern Alaska, Trump Confident He Could ‘Shoot Someone’ and Maintain Support
No major damage reported as Alaska hit by 7.1-magnitude earthquake. (CNN)
Trump says he could ‘shoot somebody’ and still be popular. (Reuters)
Canadian police charge teenager with fatally shooting four. (The Guardian)
LA authorities mount manhunt for escaped murder, torture suspects. (LA Times)
Housing crash film ‘The Big Short’ gets Oscar-gauging Producer’s Guild award. (EW)
They’re going the distance. After most critics had written off Peyton Manning and his teammates, the Broncos held off the reigning New England Patriots in a classic grinder, 20-18. Meanwhile, Cam Newton’s Carolina squad pummeled the Arizona Cardinals, 49-15. The Panthers are expected to be favorites heading into football’s biggest game in Santa Clara, California, in two weeks. But after playing one of his best games all season, Denver fans hope Manning has a final great performance left in him before likely hanging up his cleats for good.
After withering criticism over a second year’s lily-white crop of nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wants reform. The promised changes — endorsed by the academy’s 51-member board — aim to double female and minority influence by 2020. The new rules would cull voting members if they’d been out of the biz for 10 years, with past nominees exempted. The move’s been praised by #OscarsSoWhite activists, but acrimony is unlikely to cool while bombs like “anti-white racism” are being tossed by the likes of Best Actress nominee Charlotte Rampling.
He’s just what the doctor ordered. This 36-year-old epigeneticist and University of Hawaii assistant professor aims to lower the Aloha State’s high rates of diabetes and heart disease — among the worst in the nation. He’s already shown that by changing diabetic patients’ diets, he’s able to improve their health, and he’s hoping his treatment can help stop diabetics from passing the disease to future generations. A native Hawaiian, Maunakea is blending knowledge about ancestral remedies with modern medicine to help return his state to a clean bill of health.
Believe it, or not. A new book, God Is Watching You, by social scientist Dominic Johnson, explores the benefits of religion. While belief systems are often blamed for worldly woes, researchers have measured their behavioral benefits and found that fear of divine retribution is a powerful motivator for being good. The findings support the author’s theory that religion is an evolutionary blessing. Atheism can use science as a “gospel of enlightenment,” but Johnson says it’s no less flawed than religion — and what folks really need is a bit of faith.
They can tell you how to get to Sesame Street. After 45 seasons and recent revenue shortfalls, the cable and satellite giant swooped in last August with a five-year rescue plan for Sesame Workshop. HBO funds the show and gets exclusive rights to episodes for nine months, after which PBS airs them for free. But some criticize the deal — families that can afford the premium-channel subscription get first dibs at episodes — and worry that the neighborhood of garbage-can-dwelling Oscar the Grouch will be gentrified by its flashy new landlords.
They’re getting the picture. In 1934, New York’s stuffy Metropolitan Museum of Art realized it might be a “good idea” to acquire works by Gauguin, Matisse and Picasso, along with others it had been ignoring. Prominent bequests helped update its galleries, but in the decades since, the Met’s acquisitions committee has greeted genres like abstract expressionism with a cold shoulder. But Thomas P. Campbell, the institution’s new director, is embracing the future and benefactors’ preferences with a multimillion-dollar plan to rebuild the wing for modern and contemporary art and dive headlong into the 20th century.
Legacies are on the line. Sunday’s pro football semifinals will set the stage for the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. New England heads to Denver, where the Patriots are slight favorites over the Broncos in the final AFC matchup. The spotlight is on quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who meet in their 17th, and likely final, showdown before Manning’s predicted retirement. Meanwhile, Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers are favored to defeat the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC title — possibly leading to a rematch of their only championship game, which New England won in 2003.