Europe is on shakier ground after Greek voters yesterday embraced Alexis Tsipras’ anti-austerity Syriza Party. The new prime minister was sworn in today. Tsipras has vowed to halt the harsh spending cuts and tax hikes linked to the EU bailout. The euro fell close to an 11-year low, but many still expect compromise, rather than a broken EU. Eurozone officials made the first move today by insisting that the terms of Greece’s bailout won’t be relaxed.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re bracing for the worst. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio warned residents not to underestimate this potentially historic storm. The blizzard could bring as much as three feet of snow and hurricane-force winds to the Northeast tonight and tomorrow. As the storm gathered strength, airlines preemptively canceled at least 7,000 flights, schools and offices closed early, and residents emptied grocery shelves. New York City and Boston even banned travel completely. Get home and stay home was the order of the day.
America’s lone-wolf act is getting tougher. The U.S. isn’t facing the threat of deflation that prompted shocking moves by central banks in Canada and Switzerland, and the European Central Bank’s huge stimulus plan. But as they weigh interest rate hikes this week, Federal Reserve officials won’t be able to ignore the worsening global outlook — or stubborn wage stagnation at home. The stronger dollar could keep inflation in check, so the Fed may not break from the pack so quickly.
They’re showing off for China. The president — in New Delhi for a three-day visit — stood beside Prime Minister Narendra Modi at today’s military parade celebrating Republic Day, India’s constitutional anniversary. By day’s end he’d promised $4 billion in loans and investments. The pomp and circumstance followed yesterday’s announcement of plans for the U.S. to supply civilian nuclear technology to India. Obama’s warm welcome signals friendlier ties as the nations attempt to redraw Asia’s power map before an increasingly aggressive China.
Jeffrey Sterling convicted after giving information to The New York Times. (NYT)
Government worker accidentally flew drone near White House. (NYT)
Town of Monguno, Nigeria, falls to Boko Haram. (DW)
Ugandan LRA commander due to appear at ICC. (BBC)
Shanghai shifts focus away from GDP growth. (FT) sub
’Cyber Caliphate’ hackers attack Malaysian Airlines web site. (The Guardian)
Saudi Arabia expands regional authority. (NYT)
Could one shot save us all? To produce flu vaccines, medical experts must guess the dominant strains long before sniffle season. Sometimes the flu shot misses the mark — like this year, when it proved only 23 percent effective (good would be 50 to 60 percent). Scientists are within arm’s reach of creating a “universal vaccine” to fight all strains of influenza A with a single, lifetime dose. But don’t toss those tissues just yet; it’s still at least 5-7 years away.
She likes Manchester United, plays the sax and has two kids. The Rev. Libby Lane is also the eighth Bishop of Stockport at York Minster. She ended centuries of all-male church leadership when she was appointed last month. At her consecration an outspoken vicar shouted his discontent, but otherwise the move marks a major reconciliation between the traditional and reform arms of the church. “I’m the first,” Lane says. “But I won’t be the only.”
There aren’t many left. Some 300 former prisoners — down from 1,500 a decade ago — traveled to Poland to mark the 70th year since the liberation of the Nazi death camp. While the living can still share their stories, conservationists are struggling to maintain the site. Auschwitz’s buildings, barracks and gas chambers are slowly disintegrating. An effort is under way to collect $135 million to meet the challenge of preserving this monumental reminder of the Holocaust for future generations, even as its survivors fade away.
It’s the size of a mountain, and it’s doing a fly-by. Grab your binoculars and catch a glimpse of Asteroid 2004 BL86 today as the giant space rock, estimated to be a third of a mile wide, hurtles past Earth just 745,645 miles away. The asteroid will be brightest tonight from 11:07 p.m. until 11:52 p.m. EST. You needn’t duck, astronomers say, but there is one danger: missing your opportunity to see this near-Earth asteroid, which won’t return for another 200 years.
Let’s return to nature. That’s the idea behind Copenhagen’s first neighborhood adapted to face a changing climate. City planners could have spent a small fortune on infrastructure like bigger sewers. Instead they created grassy public spaces that double as catchments to store overflow when waters rise. Streets will funnel water to the harbor, resembling Venice when it pours. Many residents didn’t even realize their area has become a pioneer for the future of urban planning. They just know it looks better.
It was a heroic haul. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s dark satire about a failed superhero actor took the top prize for outstanding film cast last night at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, making it the Oscar favorite. Orange Is the New Black and Downton Abbey took top TV honors. Oscar frontrunners — Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons — all notched wins in a ceremony that’s highly predictive of the Academy Awards. Which means this year’s Oscars just lost its statuette for suspense.
North Carolina fans are really bitter now. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski — already the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history — nabbed a record 1,000th victory yesterday with a classic Blue Devils comeback over St. John’s University at Madison Square Garden. The 67-year-old, who’s led Duke to four NCAA titles, said he was proud to break the record, though it’s bound to be beaten later. But his rivals aren’t so sure, saying, “He’s going to coach forever,” which would suit Duke just fine.
Big isn’t always better. Contrary to popular belief, corporate behemoths aren’t swallowing up small businesses. The number of independent bookstores in the U.S. has grown nearly 20 percent since 2009. And American craft breweries — combined — now outsell Budweiser. Their secret? A “true differentiation” strategy that emphasizes standout quality, customer service and curation over mass-marketed goods. Small breweries, for example, gave drinkers what they missed most: big flavor. So raise a glass to a free market that’s alive and well.