America is seeing red. After eight years in the minority, Republicans flipped seven spots in the chamber to wrest control from Democrats. Conservatives grabbed seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. They may take more as results come in from a neck-and-neck race in Virginia, a runoff in Louisiana and slow counting in rural Alaska. Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was conciliatory, saying parties needn’t be in “perpetual conflict,” and Obama reached across the aisle, inviting bipartisan leaders to meet with him on Friday.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The dust has barely cleared from the midterms, and already there’s talk of what’s next: Hillary Clinton. She’ll face pressure to declare her candidacy fast and will have a solid target to position herself against (the Republican majority on the Hill). And voters in the key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire showed they’re comfortable electing women to high office. Not to mention, the rest of the potential Democratic presidential field appears fairly thin right now. Ready for another crazy Clinton ride?
Let’s start with a historical note: Republican Tim Scott represents the first black senator elected in the house since Reconstruction. Scott, alongside N.J. Dem Cory Booker, marks the first time two black, elected Senators will serve together. The other newcomers include a former Fortune 500 CEO, an intellectual conservative powerhouse (with both Harvard and Oxford on his resume) and a daughter continuing a family tradition of political office-holding.
The GOP didn’t just take back the Senate; they rushed governors’ mansions across the nation. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker — a Tea Party hero — won his third ballot in four years, nudging him toward a possible 2016 presidential run. Kansas retained Gov. Sam Brownback, while Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal managed to keep Jason Carter — grandson of Jimmy — at bay. Florida’s Rick Scott beat back his Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist. It wasn’t all tears for the Dems, though. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo cruised to a second term, Tom Wolf unseated Pennsylvania GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, and Rhode Island elected its first female governor, Democrat Gina Raimondo.
He’s not taking any chances. President Petro Poroshenko has sent troops to Ukraine’s key southern and eastern cities, fearing Russia-backed rebels may stage attacks after last weekend’s disputed separatist elections. The president asked his government to scrap a deal agreed upon in September’s Minsk accords — a “special status” for the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. None of the Minsk accords had been implemented yet anyway, but the peace agreement is now looking positively fragile.
They may soon be toking up in Oregon and Washington, D.C., where folks approved marijuana for recreational use. Proponents of legalization have a slight edge in Alaska, where the final count will take some time. Floridians, meanwhile, fell just short of passing a medical marijuana amendment last night, but a similar measure passed in Guam. While Washington, D.C., voters approved of pot, they can’t enjoy a victory high just yet. The final decision now rests with a Republican Congress, no friend of Mary Jane.
African Union pressures Burkina Faso army to hand over power. (BBC)
A car rammed into pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing one and injuring at least nine in a possible terror attack. (BBC)
Shells hit a Syrian school, killing 13 children. (AP)
Catalonia to hold straw poll on independence, defying Madrid. (NYT)
U.S. floats UN human rights sanctions against South Sudan. (Reuters)
Arrest of Mexican mayor may help missing student case. (LA Times)
They met terrible deaths. An enraged crowd in rural Pakistan tortured and killed a Christian couple for allegedly desecrating a Qur’an. The bodies of Shama Bibi and her husband, Shahbaz Masih, were then incinerated in a brick kiln at the factory where they worked. Despite little evidence, brutal vigilante attacks against religious minorities are becoming routine in Pakistan and judicial justice is rarely less violent. More than 40 people have been arrested for Tuesday’s killings, but to date, no false accuser has ever been punished for such crimes.
First Scotland fails to win independence, now this. A Japanese-made single malt of “near indescribable genius” (Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013) has been named the world’s best whiskey by the Whisky Bible, which samples 4,500 varieties a year. And for the first time ever, Scottish marks didn’t even manage to break the book’s top five. Rather than drowning their sorrows, whiskey expert Jim Murray says Scotland’s distilleries should see their drop in ratings as a wake-up call.
You don’t have to explain your political ideology: the insults you use to label the other side say it all. “Commie” and “hack” are aimed at liberal Democrats by conservative Republicans — same with “hippie,” “loon,” “twit,” and “elitist.” Conservatives, meanwhile, are far more often called “extremist,” “fanatic” and “ideologue.” Equal opportunity insults include “blowhard” and “wacko,” according to Oxford Dictionaries lexicographer Katherine Martin, who categorized insulting words from thousands of articles. Got it, fool?
Rusty Hardin scores again. Known as the pro-sports disaster master, the attorney bargained for a plea deal that amounts to a slap on the wrist: a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of community service. Peterson faced up to two years in prison for hitting his four-year-old son with a switch. The NFL was mum on the matter of reinstating the Minnesota Vikings running back, but these days the league is delicate about domestic abuse.
Move over, Star Trek. Food from a “replicator” may be more than a flight of fancy. The U.S. Army is experimenting with remotely printing food for soldiers to meet nutritional needs in the field. These nutrient-dense “liquid matrices” could be customized for each hungry warrior. Okay, so it’s not chicken cordon bleu, but the future tastes bright. In Los Angeles, the Sugar Lab is starting with candy made on a 3D printer that can vary textures along with tastes. Expect ready-to-eat rations by 2025.
The play’s the thing, even if it’s on your iPad. Shakespeare’s Globe, London’s reconstruction of the Bard’s favorite theater, has launched an on-demand service. You can rent or buy video of more than 50 plays, mostly in English, but some in Serbian, Japanese and other languages. Is it much ado about nothing? Purists may scoff at the Globe Player, but for those who can’t visit in person, a rose by any other medium may smell as sweet.