The vice president is taking his turn at globe-trotting next week, heading for Turkey, Morocco and Ukraine. The latter is the most embroiled, with Russia still denying that it’s sending troops over the border to aid rebels in separatist strongholds. But it’s the Turks who’ve become increasingly troublesome allies. They resisted U.S. strategy in Syria, especially when it sought to arm Kurdish fighters they feared might assist rebels in Turkey. We’ll see whether President Erdogan is ready to listen now that Biden has apologized for suggesting Ankara had helped ISIS.
The Presidential Daily Brief
President Obama got the historic pledge from China to reduce emissions, but now what? The much-hailed U.S.-Chinese energy pact offers great promise for the environment, but GOP critics claim it isn’t economically viable. And while Beijing appears to be going green, its military stance still worries U.S. allies. The president’s tour may have been a feast for the big powers, but the pots on the back burner are threatening to bubble over.
As the Jewish state’s new ceremonial president, all one can expect of Reuven Rivlin is to take moral stands. But with Israel’s political echelon — Rivlin included — leaning far to the right, he has become a surprising champion of Arab rights and an enemy of racism. True to his post, he walks the line between traditions of saber-rattling and social liberalism. He may want to annex the West Bank, but he’s been called “President of Hezbollah” for insisting on Arab participation in Israeli government.
Pundits have begun trying to read the electoral tea leaves for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 prospects. Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina, told OZY this week that Clinton’s experience working across party lines and on foreign policy makes her a winner. But given the party’s struggles, some say it needs a more populist message. Democracy Alliance’s liberal donors snubbed Clinton recently, inviting Sen. Elizabeth Warren to their annual winter meeting instead. Might she step up, OZY’s Emily Cadei asks, if Clinton’s machine starts showing cracks?
Philae goes quiet as batteries run dry on comet. (The Guardian)
Obama warns of Asia ‘intimidation’ as G20 gets under way in Australia. (BBC)
House approves Keystone pipeline. (NYT)
7.3-magnitude earthquake rattles Indonesia. (CNN)
Boko Haram takes over Chibok, Nigeria. (AFP)
Mars One has a simple plan: Entice volunteers with a one-way mission to colonize the “Red Planet” and fund it with a reality TV show. One Australian found purpose in life as a short-lister among thousands of applicants, but he concedes that his hero, a NASA astronaut, “hates” the scheme. Crowd-funding and penny-ante sponsorships for a $6-billion mission that should cost much more — what could go wrong? Lots, starting with very little evidence to refute critics’ charges that Mars One is “nothing more than a website.”
It’s World War Z in miniature, and almost as gross. Scientists have found insect and viral parasites genetically encoded to control their hosts’ behavior. One is the parasitic virus that causes malaria; it controls mosquitoes, putting them on a famine-then-blood-feast cycle that helps the virus reach its next victim — possibly you. Researchers also discovered a virus that may control wasps that then turn ladybugs into zombie bodyguards for wasp larvae. Even Brad Pitt can’t keep these mind-suckers at bay.
The ancient Greeks would have loved Kira Radinsky. She’s a modern oracle with the computing power to predict critical events. The 27-year-old Israeli computer scientist is collaborating with a Microsoft team to design software that monitors news and social media. The program discerns patterns and anticipates where they’re headed, and has foreseen an eerie number of global happenings, from Middle Eastern riots to an unexpected outbreak of cholera in Cuba. It’s had some misses, but the software boasts a 70- to 90-percent success rate, boding well for Radinsky’s prediction startup.
The New Republic’s erstwhile wunderkind — fired for fabricating stories in 1998 — says he’s sorry. Stephen Glass, the infamous subject of the film Shattered Glass, apologizes for writing journalistic fables. He also regrets that he couldn’t convince California to let him practice law. Now middle-aged, he’s preparing witnesses for personal-injury lawsuits, keeping a vegan diet and seemingly has his life on track. Channeling her anger and skepticism, a former colleague — and a victim of his deceptions — comes to grips with his troubled past.
They were monsters who wore stopwatches around their necks. They coached young girls who dreamed of Olympic glory but used their positions of power to molest and rape for years without getting caught. High-ranking officials at USA Swimming, the governing group for nearly every local swim team, are accused of looking the other way. One researcher says the club-sport system is plagued by a “tsunami of sex abuse.” Victims say the lack of oversight allows coaches to move from club to club, preying on young, hopeful swimmers.