They should never have gotten out. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory in Atlanta accidentally sent samples of the live Ebola virus to another lab down the hall where a technician handled them without the protection of a mask. The worker, along with several colleagues, will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. The accident comes after the CDC mishandled dangerous samples of anthrax and the flu earlier in the year. The agency’s critics will only multiply with this latest mishap.
The Presidential Daily Brief
This won’t help rebuild trust. A cop fatally shot an armed teen late yesterday in Berkeley, Missouri, in a suburb near where Michael Brown died in August. Antonio Martin reportedly pointed a gun at the officer during a routine check at a Mobil gas station. Police released surveillance video showing the confrontation as small figures on the edge of the screen. A protest and scuffles with authorities broke out almost immediately — a sign of raw nerves in the wake of controversial police-related deaths.
Islamist militants in Syria have captured a downed Jordanian aircraft and its pilot, Flight Lieutenant Moaz Youssef al-Kasasbeh, Jordan officials confirmed. The plane went down near Raqqa in northern Syria. ISIS claims to have struck the aircraft with a heat-seeking missile, but the U.S. military said “evidence clearly indicates” that militants didn’t down the plane. Photos on social media show triumphant armed men surrounding the captured pilot. It’s likely that the media-savvy militants will use Jordan’s critical role in the coalition campaign to their advantage.
He’s under observation. Former President George H.W. Bush was taken to Houston Methodist Hospital last night with shortness of breath. Just last June, to mark his 90th birthday, the 41st and oldest living president made a tandem parachute jump in Maine. Bush, who has lost use of his legs and suffers from a form of Parkinson’s disease, is being held as a “precaution” in the same hospital that treated him for bronchitis in 2013. President Obama, who is vacationing in Hawaii, has sent his warm wishes.
United we’ll watch. Sony Pictures will screen the North Korean comedy on Christmas Day, much to the president’s delight. Obama applauded the decision to allow smaller theaters to show the Seth Rogen vehicle, now a cause célèbre for many moviegoers who loathe the idea of caving in to the supposed whims of a spoof-hating dictator. “The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed!” Rogen proclaimed. The film will also begin streaming today on YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Video for a fee. Don’t expect high art: One critic called it a “misguided missle.”
Didn’t expect this one under the tree. The U.S. economy notched its biggest growth in more than a decade, and yesterday the Dow soared past 18,000 for the first time. Consumer spending helped crank up GDP to five percent in the third quarter, blowing past an earlier estimate of 3.9 percent with a strength not seen since 2003. The cheerful numbers sent an early Christmas present to the White House: President Obama’s approval numbers swelled to a 20-month high.
Some Americans may be getting a white Christmas, but it won’t be merry and bright nationwide. Many folks in the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northern Plains and Rockies can expect to wake up to a winter wonderland. But tornadoes wreaked havoc across the Southeast yesterday, killing four, and a major storm system is set to wallop the eastern half of the U.S. with heavy rain and high winds today, delaying Christmas Eve flights. Better call Rudolph.
Former Korean Air exec may face arrest after blowup over macadamia nuts. (CNN)
Israeli forces shoot dead Hamas militant after sniper attack. (The Guardian)
Navy investigates former SEAL claiming to have killed bin Laden. (DW)
Militants kill 65 in India state of Assam. (Times of India)
BAE wins $1.2 billion Army contract. (AFP)
Minsk peace talks loom. (BBC)
FDA eases blood donation ban on gay men. (NYT)
Good luck finding a toy gun this holiday season. Once a common gift for the school-aged set, a plaything to prepare for manhood, toy shooters available today aren’t even sold as “guns.” Maybe it’s because too many young boys carrying a toy have been shot by police, because hunting isn’t as popular as it used to be, or because those inclined to play-fight can take their aggression out on video games. No matter the reason, the holiday gifts of yore are quickly becoming collectors’ items.
The troubled startup hits another speed bump. Seoul officials say the ride-sharing service’s subsidiary violates local taxi licensing laws, and names Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in the indictment. It’s the latest in a series of Asian trouble for the company. Officials in the Chinese mega-city Chongqing say they’re investigating the service, which matches drivers with those needing rides. In Taiwan, leaders say they’re investigating the legality of Uber too. It looks like the fast-driving company may need to hit the breaks.
True, Chinese eateries are often open on Christmas. But that only half-explains the beloved ritual of American Jews enjoying plates of General Tso’s chicken, chop suey and dumplings for the holiday. In past centuries, immigrant Jews found succor in the wonton soup — the Chinese don’t mix dairy with meat, giving the semblance of kosher food. The two cultures also found solidarity: As non-Christians, both groups could revel in their otherness on the most special night for Christians — and not go hungry.
’Twas the night … for less screen time. New research reveals that time spent on lighted devices hurts your chances for a good night’s rest. The study involved only 12 subjects, but those who read an iPad before bed instead of a book fell asleep later and showed lower melatonin, critical to our circadian rhythms. Sleep loss is linked to loads of health issues. So settle down for that long winter’s nap in low-tech fashion … and to all a good night.
Not had your morning cup of joe? Better sit down. The coffee-making giant has recalled roughly seven million MINI Plus Brewing Systems over burn-related injuries. The machines reportedly can overheat and spray scalding water, leading to 200 incidents and 90 injuries. Foes of the plastic pod system will rejoice, and some are already questioning how long the company waited to recall the brewers. But Keurig devotees will be crying over empty mugs … just in time for Christmas.
Irving Azoff is not at all happy. The representative for Pharrell Williams, John Lennon, Smokey Robinson and The Eagles is threatening the online video-sharing giant with a huge lawsuit, demanding it take down 20,000 tracks it doesn’t have performance rights to broadcast. But Google says it does have the rights and called the threat “misguided.” Other streaming sites are in a similar boat, but Azoff says he’s targeting “the worst offender” — and certainly the most well-heeled.
Sure, they’re fan favorites, but popularity contests are so high school. There are bound to be snubs, and this year’s roster for the NFL’s all-star game has some doozies: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Packers receiver Randall Cobb among them. Then there are the obvious picks like Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. The biggest clique belongs to the Broncos: The AFC West champs are sending nine players to the January 25 game in Arizona.