The rumors are rampant. Police are having a tough time tracking the leads as they search for brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, prime suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre that left 12 dead yesterday. Heavily armed special forces descended upon woodland villages northeast of Paris where the alleged attackers may have fled into the forest. Earlier reports had them driving on a highway leading into Paris, forcing police to seal off the French capital. A U.S. official also revealed that Said Kouachi trained with Al Qaeda in Yemen.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The Feds aren’t cool with getting run over. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration slapped Honda with two civil penalties for $35 million each for failing to report 1,729 death and injury claims over the past 11 years. The automaker, which had reported only 900 cases in that time, blamed its failure on administrative mistakes. The NHTSA can only levy a maximum of $35 million per penalty, a rounding error for Honda. Advocates are pushing Congress to increase the cap to $300 million.
They’re not caving to the terrorists. The surviving staffers of France’s satirical magazine are vowing to put out an unusually large print run next Wednesday, despite the deaths of eight colleagues in a brutal attack yesterday. “Stupidity will not win,” said one contributor. Support is pouring in to ensure the publication’s future. The French government is giving $1.2 million, Google contributed nearly $300,000 and The Guardian has pledged just over $150,000. The next issue already has a title: “Le Journal Des Survivants” or “The Magazine of the Survivors.”
Schools are shut in many places across the country, with an estimated 87.2 percent of America suffering below-freezing temperatures. A whiteout on Pennsylvania’s I-80 led to an 18-vehicle pileup that killed three, and one electricity company in the Carolinas is asking customers to cut down on their power usage amid soaring demand. Minnesota faces “feels like” temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit. And while Southern Californians can greet clear, warm skies without hats and gloves, everyone else should bundle up.
Is America the sunny island amid stormy seas? Minutes from a recent Federal Reserve meeting reflect the central bankers’ belief that the U.S. recovery continues, despite a global economy beset by falling oil prices, deflation and political uncertainty. While the Fed pointed to strong consumer spending and job gains as positive signs, it also noted worries that diminishing growth overseas could dampen future domestic prospects. Still, confidence at home remains strong, and interest rates are expected to rise, but not before April.
Lines are long today, with voters eager to choose between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and a largely unknown challenger. Maithripala Sirisena was one of Rajapaksa’s ministers before he defected and threw his hat into the ring, and he’s hoping frustration with government corruption will win him votes. But it’s an uphill battle in the face of a fairly strong economy. Polls forecast a close race, and international monitors expect a free and fair election, but rumors are rife over fears of voter intimidation and election-day coercion.
U.S. Olympic Committee chooses Boston for 2024 bid. (Boston.com)
Obama: U.S. workers should get two years of free community college. (USA Today)
Senator from California won’t seek reelection after 2016. (LA Times)
Mueller: NFL didn’t see elevator video before punishing Ray Rice. (SB Nation)
FBI chief: I’m confident North Korea hacked Sony. (Al Jazeera)
ECB stimulus expectations boost European stocks. (WSJ) sub
Indian coal workers call off strike. (CNN Money)
ISIS ‘religious police’ reportedly kidnapped in Syria. (BBC)
China’s economic woes test relations with Latin America. (FT) sub
Journalists worldwide are mourning yesterday’s attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Named for Peanuts character Charlie Brown, the publication is known for irreverent cartoons and provocative news commentary, which had previously led to its offices being firebombed and even temporary closures of French embassies. But those pale compared to Wednesday’s murder of 10 journalists — some of France’s finest cartoonists — and two policemen. As slain editor Stephane Charbonnier once said, after years of attacks, “I would prefer to die standing than to live on my knees.”
Let them eat liver. A judge has struck down state law banning the delicacy, which is made from the enlarged livers of ducks and geese, saying federal statutes trump state rules here. Force-feeding fowl troubles animal rights activists, who deem it cruel. Chefs, meanwhile, celebrate — their back stashes mean they could offer celebratory foie gras dishes almost immediately. Salted caramel foie gras ice cream, anyone?
Call it a Christmas bonus. It looks like employers struggling to find good help in the New Year are keeping their holiday hires on the books longer. That’s the going theory for why jobless claims fell as the calendar turned. In all, 2014 saw 2.65 million jobs added in 11 months. With the final tally due out shortly, last year should prove to be one of the strongest job creation years since the 1990s. Bring on the boom.
It was under our feet all along. Scientists have found a way to extract a powerful antibiotic using microorganisms living in soil. In mice, teixobactin easily killed off bacteria that cause upper respiratory tract infections and other illnesses — even drug-resistant ones. Better still, it’s expected to remain effective for decades before pathogens mutate against it. While teixobactin is several years away from human use, digging in the dirt for drugs may unearth a host of compounds to help fight disease.
What happens if a bomb explodes and no one notices? A small explosive rocked an NAACP office in Colorado Springs this week. No one was hurt, but it’s hard to see an attack like that and not assume it’s racially based. The incident didn’t make the top national news, not after a terror attack in Paris — and that fact has lit up the online social sphere, as critics claim media bias. The suspect, a middle aged, balding white man, is still at large.
It’s the eternal question for spouses and scientists: are we better off permanently coupled? Stressed-out couples, take note: Researchers say confidently that marriage leads to more satisfaction than being single and the benefits are long lasting. Staying hitched can also get you through depressing mid-life struggles. This study, unlike others, controls for socioeconomic status and pre-marital satisfaction levels. The biggest winners are married folks who consider themselves best friends. Remember this during your next shouting match.
He crossed the border to do it. After months of sexual assault allegations, the former king of family sitcoms returned to the boards last night in Ontario, Canada. Heckles were expected, and some fans tried to sell their tickets at the last minute, but the show went on, and laughter was heard. Cosby Show co-star Phylicia Rashad, meanwhile, spoke out in support of her former TV husband, whose Canadian tour includes two more shows this week — despite news of more allegations.
It may have become a verb, but that doesn’t mean folks have to stay. In December, Google’s U.S. search market share fell to 75.2 percent from 79.3 percent, while Yahoo’s jumped to 10.4 percent from 7.4 percent. The shift is linked to Firefox switching its default search engine to Yahoo in November. Experts doubt the points will hurt Google, but the boost is great news for Yahoo, which has struggled to rebound in the search engine game. How do we know? We googled it.
He didn’t say no. After two years of on-field brilliance and off-field controversy, the Heisman Trophy-winning Seminoles quarterback is opting for the draft, likely as the first pick. Winston’s Florida State report card reads 26 wins, a national championship and one loss — an embarrassing Rose Bowl thrashing by Oregon. He’s been dogged by accusations of rape, leaving Winston with two ghosts to shed: “No means no” chants, and the fact that no Heisman-winning quarterback in the NFL has a record above .500.