Red state has a new meaning. Donald Trump attacked the CIA’s conclusion that Russian hacking was intended to boost the mogul in this year’s election. Meanwhile, he’s considering Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson — who has close business ties with Moscow — for secretary of state. While the CIA based its conclusion on overwhelming circumstantial evidence, other intelligence outlets aren’t as sure of the motive behind the hacks. Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham called for a thorough bipartisan investigation into Russia’s election interference, but party leaders remain noncommittal.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He’s a bull in a China shop. Chinese leaders told Donald Trump to have a little respect for the principles that have guided relations for four decades after he openly questioned Washington’s “One China” policy. Beijing has long required diplomatic partners to cut official ties to Taiwan and acknowledge a unified China. But with Trump questioning whether he’s bound to the stance “unless we make a deal with China on other things,” it seems the president-elect may use the policy as a bargaining chip in future negotiations.
Will the city survive a second time? ISIS has lost significant territory in recent months, but reportedly pushed Syrian troops out of the historic city over the weekend. For ISIS, it’s a psychological victory: Losing Palmyra last spring was deemed a big defeat. It’s also a strategic success that could cripple the supply chain to Russian and Syrian troops elsewhere. Last time they held the city, ISIS staged mass executions and destroyed priceless archaeological sites, and while few people remain in Palmyra, experts worry the militants could still level ancient buildings.
The floodgates have opened. A deal announced this summer for 80 jetliners has been finalized — the first major sale between the Islamic Republic and a U.S. company since President Obama’s nuclear deal lifted sanctions and made such a thing possible. The timing is tricky for both parties as they prepare for an incoming president who showed hostility to Boeing via Twitter and has talked tough about tearing up the Iranian nuclear agreement. Several U.S. agencies still have to rubber-stamp the Boeing sale, and their approval is far from certain.
Know This: A British-Algerian journalist jailed over a poem has died after going on a hunger strike in protest. Venezuela has pulled its largest bill out of circulation in a bid to fight corruption. And Christians in Egypt are fearful after a church bombing killed 25 in Cairo.
Read This: After a racist backlash over the Mall of America’s decision to hire its first Black Santa Claus this holiday season, it might be time to brush up on Santa’s history as an occasional Civil Rights hero.
Remember This: Bundespräsidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung. That’s Austria’s 52-letter word of the year, which means “postponement of the presidential runoff” — something it experienced when the country’s initial presidential ballot was invalidated and delayed until earlier this month.
The votes are in. Some clear favorites dominate this year’s Golden Globes nominations — plus a few surprises. Oscar favorites Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, and La La Land top the film nominations, with comic book blockbuster Deadpool sneaking in as a contender. Meanwhile, popular ongoing TV series got fewer nods, with Game of Thrones facing more of a challenge from new shows like This is Us and Stranger Things. Jimmy Fallon’s set to emcee the Jan. 8 awards ceremony, which will feature a lifetime achievement award for Meryl Streep.
It’s definitely a fantastic beast. But Eriovixia gryffindori isn’t a marketing tie-in for the Harry Potter spinoff. It’s a newly discovered spider — named because its oddly shaped body looks like the magical Sorting Hat, once owned by Godric Gryffindor, that divides new students of witchcraft and wizardry into their Hogwarts houses. Discoverers Javed Ahmed, Rajashree Khalap and Sumukha Javagal recently published their findings in the Indian Journal of Arachnology. J.K. Rowling, who’s also got a wasp named for her creations, says she’s “truly honored.”
Care to spend 17 hours in the air? The Australian airline currently operates two flights to Britain, both via Dubai. But the new Perth-London route, set to take off in March 2018, will eliminate that step. The first direct flight between the two continents will also be the world’s third-longest passenger service available, topping 9,000 miles. Some warn that it’s likely to take even longer than the estimated 17-hour flight time, as the Boeing 787 Dreamliners may have to navigate around hostile airspace dotting the most direct path.
That’s not what they mean by “put a ring on it.” Cassini, the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, has taught us a lot in its 20 years of service. Now NASA’s planning to send it plunging into the planet’s atmosphere — but not before it spends months getting up close and personal with Saturn’s rings, studying what’s in them and how they came to be, which could help scientists solve mysteries of planet formation. Cassini will finally gather data about Saturn’s atmosphere on its dramatic suicide mission in September 2017.
He’s not throwing away his shot. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash has begotten a reimagined soundtrack boasting some of music’s biggest names, from Sia to Kelly Clarkson to Chance the Rapper to Nas. With 187,000 album sales in its first week, the mixtape shot to No. 1 on the charts — besting the musical’s cast recording, which peaked at No. 3 but is still the fifth-highest selling album of the year. The recordings remain your best shot to hear Hamilton, though: The Broadway version is sold out through July 2017.
They’re not calling signals anymore. College quarterbacks like Julian Edelman, Terrelle Pryor and Braxton Miller are finding homes as wide receivers and other positions, part of a trend of athletic QBs making the transition. Experts say the rise of the spread offense has made running QBs popular, with skills that translate to other roles. And while some chalk it up to quarterback ego — they’ll find a way to stay in the game, no matter what — many see an advantage to having the wily leaders all over the field.