He’s only vetoed two bills in office so far, but Obama has his red pen ready. With Republicans taking the helm next week, the U.S. Congress is about to make an abrupt right turn. Obamacare, oil and immigration are sure to be hot topics, with incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already promising a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But control of the House and Senate doesn’t just mean congressional change. Conservative unity could seriously impact Obama’s legacy.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Flight QZ8501, with 162 passengers on board, crashed into the ocean last Sunday amid reports of bad weather. The airline reportedly did not have a license to fly between Surabaya and Singapore on Sundays, and authorities have suspended AirAsia’s flights between these cities pending an investigation. Stormy seas have hampered rescue efforts. Indonesian families spent their New Year mourning instead of celebrating, and the accident has shone a light on the spotty safety record of a nation whose airlines struggle to keep up with fast-growing demand.
Politicians have claimed that stopping the militants won’t require another drawn-out war. But the special U.S. envoy for fighting ISIS, Gen. John Allen, says it’s unrealistic to think of it as a short-term battle. One expert says we’ll begin to see ISIS evolve into more of a governing body and less of a terrorist organization. For now, efforts must focus on restoring Iraqi sovereignty and impeding militant recruitment, but that is just the start.
The Big Apple’s finest are angry. City policemen have all but stopped making arrests for lesser offenses, and they again snubbed Mayor de Blasio at the weekend funeral for officer Wenjian Liu. Hundreds turned their backs on proceedings as the mayor spoke. Summonses for minor infractions like public urination dropped 94 percent from this time last year, with overall arrests down 66 percent. If the city remains calm, could it mean that officers were doing too much all along?
North Korea lashes out at ‘hostile’ U.S. sanctions. (BBC)
Prince Andrew emphatically denies relations with ‘sex slave.’ (MSN)
Eight missing from overturned cargo vessel off Scottish coast. (DW)
French mayor refuses burial of Roma baby, sparks outrage. (France 24)
Al-Qaida suspect dies days before going on trial in New York. (Al Arabiya)
Girl, 7, survives Kentucky plane crash that killed four. (CNN)
Hold onto your hats. This year promises economic challenges and business controversies worthy of “Mad Men.” Plummeting oil prices will reshuffle wealth and political heft for oil barons and nations alike. Agriculture-heavy nations like Brazil and India will embrace the cheaper oil, but there are already signs of potential disaster for producers like Russia. In retail, consumers are likely to go more global with sales tax-free Internet outlets like China’s Alibaba. The best news? U.S. stocks look set to come out on top.
This is the year you’ll shed 20 pounds, right? Some 44 percent of us make New Year resolutions, like losing weight, exercising and eating better. For half of us, those pledges melt away like candy by June. People are often overly ambitious, but research shows what works: Break goals into small steps and tell others about them. And when you stray, refocus. A cookie doesn’t have to derail you, but throwing in the towel after just one slip very well might.
Everything in Paris has a story, even the chocolate. Papillotes are supposedly the product of a lovesick apprentice of the confectioner Papillot, who sent his sweetheart chocolates wrapped in love notes. Today they’re a holiday tradition — with shiny paper, a joke and a little fuse like a Christmas cracker — carried on by the legendary Denise Acabo. A gas explosion blew up her Montmartre shop last February. But that wasn’t the final chapter. She’s now feeding Parisians’ cravings from a borrowed table in a honey store.
No, is the short answer. There are arguments that human life is such an improbable coincidence of perfect timing and position in the universe that we must have been designed by a supreme being. That may be true, or just wishful thinking. While it’s possible that Earth is the only planet supporting intelligent life, even that doesn’t point definitively to the involvement of a divine touch. Perhaps that’s why they call it a leap of faith.
They aren’t household names, but these mid-career wonders are more essential than we think. They’re the journeymen who support the marquee players, prove their worth in the clutch and win ball games. Every year, one columnist takes the time to honor these essential players, like the Bulls’ Aaron Brooks, who offers consistent court-wide coverage, or Chris Kaman, Portland’s rock on the bench. Even amid fouls and risky shots, Louis Williams of the Raptors proves his all-star qualities, reminding us all why we love the game.