In an address to the nation Thursday night, the president announced he was taking executive action to transform immigration law. He outlined rules that will protect millions of people from deportation and grant them work permits. Obama said he was “acting where Congress has failed” and sought to paint his unilateral actions as similar to those of previous Republican and Democratic administrations. Nonetheless, the president is gearing up for a fierce political battle, beginning with a campaign-like stop in Nevada on Friday to try to convince the American people first.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The beloved director of The Graduate has died at age 83. Well-regarded by actors from Broadway to Hollywood, the Berlin-born U.S. star and husband of broadcaster Diane Sawyer was one of only a few to have won an Academy Award, a Tony, an Emmy and a Grammy. He directed hits like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for the Silver Screen and early comedies by Neil Simon for the stage. ABC News President James Goldston called Nichols — who a network official said died of cardiac arrest on Wednesday — a “true visionary.”
Nearly 20 have died since Saturday, and the northeastern U.S. is bracing for another three feet of snow. Buffalo’s record-breaking snowstorm — with five feet already on the ground, seven deaths and scores of cars stranded — may dump an entire year’s worth of snow in just three days. “And that’s saying something in Buffalo,” according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. While meteorologists marvel at the historic snowfall, that won’t take the chill off the disruption to lives and travel across America.
They need to find a peaceful solution, and fast. The UN has condemned Tuesday’s deadly attack at a Jerusalem synagogue, urging Israeli and Palestinian leaders to “seek a path toward peace.” The murders of four rabbis and a policeman have spurred a harsh response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ordered the demolition of the attackers’ homes. With an increasingly sectarian subtext to recent violence, fears are mounting over a possible religious war, which one Israeli official warns “cannot be solved.”
The infamous WikiLeaker is probably going to stay put. He’s been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid being arrested and extradited to Sweden on sexual assault charges. Today, a Stockholm appeals court made it likely that Assange will extend his diplomatic stay by upholding a 2010 arrest warrant. Two women in Sweden say he assaulted them, but he denies the claims.
Maybe they’re too big to play fair. A U.S. Senate subcommittee is blasting banks like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley for using their power and size to illegally control vast inventories of commodities like aluminum, copper and coal. The bipartisan probe accuses the Wall Street giants of influencing prices and gaining trading advantages. For consumers, that means higher prices for products that use those commodities, and a shaky banking system loaded with risky bets. Expect more sordid details of the investigation at hearings today and tomorrow.
Gunman dead, three hospitalized in FSU shooting. (Washington Post)
FARC plans to release kidnapped Colombian general. (DW)
North Korea threatens nuclear tests as UN probes human rights. (BBC)
Judge overturns same-sex marriage ban in Montana. (CNN)
St. Louis first-time gun purchases on the rise. (USA Today)
Residents of Wunsiedel hate playing host to an annual march by neo-Nazis. The grave of Rudolf Hess drew them initially, but while the remains of Hitler’s right-hand man have been relocated, the skinheads keep coming. So this year activists staged the parade route — complete with motivational banners — as a charity walk. The neo-Nazis arrived, walked their usual path and learned at the finish line, as they were showered with rainbow confetti, that they’d unwittingly helped raise $12,500 for an anti-fascism charity. Jawohl!
It seemed like perfect timing. The Irish rocker wanted to use Band Aid’s 30th anniversary for a remake of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to raise funds for Africa’s health crisis. While the song has already earned about $1.5 million, critics say it perpetuates stereotypes of a diseased, impoverished continent. British-Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG rebuffed an offer to join the effort, denouncing the “offensive” lyrics. Perhaps Geldof should call time on the Band Aid concept before it does more harm than good.
Five students in Thailand were arrested for throwing the three-fingered salute made famous by the Hunger Games films. In the Hollywood version — barred by a Thai cinema chain — protesters using the signal are often dispatched by trigger-happy authorities. Apparently it’s also a no-no to use while greeting Thailand’s new prime minister, whose government considers five or more people saluting an illegal demonstration. But groups of fewer than five should get away with a little subversion.
Arctic predators are treading on thin ice. In the Beaufort Sea of northern Canada and Alaska — home to one of 19 known populations of polar bears — the animals’ numbers have fallen from 1,500 to 900 in the first decade of this millennium. Global warming is reducing the size of their habitat and melting the ice they use as hunting perches for catching seals. With little hope of them transitioning to warmer climes, it’s feared the global population will be a third of today’s level by 2050.
What does the fox say? “Nyah, nyah, nyah.” Mozilla Firefox is replacing Google as its default search engine. Users will soon be led straight to Yahoo, marking an end to the browser’s 10-year relationship with the Mountain View-based search giant. Mozilla CEO Chris Beard says he’s making the change to the new “enhanced Yahoo search” because he wants Firefox to be “for everyone.” The changes roll out next month, and while Yahoo-lovers may rejoice, Google devotees can always change their settings or their browser.
The comedian’s comeback is dead on arrival. NBC has dropped the actor’s in-development sitcom, and streaming service Netflix indefinitely postponed a stand-up special called Bill Cosby 77. The cancellations come days after TV host Janice Dickinson added her name to a list of women who claim that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them. A resurfaced comedy bit in which he mentions drugging women with Spanish fly isn’t helping, and there’s no sign the legacy-destroying allegations will stop anytime soon.
They’ve been playing one another since before the sinking of the USS Maine sparked the Spanish-American War. Lehigh and Lafayette, a college football rivalry that first kicked off in 1884, will square off for their 150th match this Saturday on an equally historic stage: Yankee Stadium. Although certainly not bowl contenders, the eastern Pennsylvania teams are expected to draw a capacity crowd of 48,000. Lafayette leads the series 77-67-5, but the squads have unfinished business: Their centennial match ended in a 6-6 tie.