Russians may hear a bit of saber-rattling along their frontier this month. The U.S. Army is sending part of its 2nd Calvary Regiment on a 1,100-mile trip through six Central and Eastern European nations, four of which border Russia. Armored Stryker vehicles are to begin the armed goodwill mission this weekend as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, aimed at reassuring NATO allies following Moscow’s “intervention in Ukraine.” But Putin may not pay much attention, given his clearer and more present dangers in Chechnya.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Still glowing from his poll-defying election victory on Tuesday, Benjamin Netanyahu got to hear what it cost: the ire of Israel’s most steadfast ally. Citing the Israeli leader’s election-eve pronouncement — since retracted — that he wouldn’t preside over a two-state deal with the Palestinians, Obama said he’d “reassess” U.S.-Israel policy. As if to add an exclamation point, the president gave a Persian New Year address Friday to Israel’s enemy Iran, offering “the best opportunity in decades” to improve U.S. relations. Congress, meanwhile, is staying its hand.
It could’ve been much worse. The outbreak in West Africa exposed gaping holes in our global response, Bill Gates warned this week in a plan to ensure we’re ready the next time around. The Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist suggests building a truly global, well-funded warning and response system capable of making quick decisions. He says we need better detection, a deep well of trained volunteers and improved health systems in poorer nations. Why? Because investments in overseas health will ultimately help us all.
Was big banking to blame for the 2008 mortgage crisis? A month-long trial in New York involving Nomura Holdings Inc. may answer that. Unlike Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, the Tokyo-based financial firm didn’t settle out of court with the Federal Housing Finance Agency when it sued banks for allegedly overvaluing mortgage-backed securities. FHFA didn’t give details when it settled with the other banks for $18 billion, but new testimony could soon prove that was a bargain. Or, if Nomura wins, that lending is due a new lease on life.
ISIS Web post IDs U.S. soldiers for assassination. (BBC)
Iran’s president says nuclear deal within sight. (CNN)
New York’s worst fire in eight years kills seven children. (NYT)
Airport machete attacker dies as more weapons found. (NPR)
Football Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik dies at 89. (L.A. Times)
The biggest overlooked opportunity in today’s hot marketplace? Respect for your elders. Boomers and seniors spend $5 trillion-plus a year — more than fivefold that of millennials — and savvy venture-capital firms are starting to eye aging wallets. The elderly market is inspiring innovative solutions, like computerized spoons to help Parkinson’s patients, and support is growing for firms developing medical information-sharing software to improve caregiving and family oversight. Retirement might just become the new economy’s golden age.
He’s known as a 1985 Unabomber target, but some may also remember James McConnell’s research. In 1959, he trained flatworms, then decapitated them and found they recalled their training after regrowing brains. The idea of memories living in the flesh was revolutionary, but other scientists doubted his methods and conclusions. Now Michael Levin, a Tufts University developmental biologist, has replicated the results with more reliable methods. This could inspire biological-memory computer systems or even organ- and limb-regeneration techniques — and, along with them, a rehabilitation of McConnell’s memory.
Can you legislate hip? Ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tokyo has invested billions in the Cool Japan Fund. It promotes ramen chains and lifestyle retailers and hopes to revive the 1980s cultural wave that sent anime, Hello Kitty and Nintendo to foreign shores. But South Korea and its K-Pop are now snatching market share, and Japanese locals seem to be the only ones getting the Cool Japan message. So if “cool” had no agency, there’d still be a global market for Big Hero 6 merchandise.
A staple of church life just decades ago, Sunday school is being cast from the American routine. It’s not simply a case of declining religiosity; pastors, experts and parishioners blame busier lifestyles, churches’ struggles to adapt to a plugged-in generation and lingering fears from sex scandals. To turn the tide, some have begun offering everything from home-based instruction to discussing the Quran. But with a 40 percent attendance drop in some denominations, the end of days seems nigh for this 1700s innovation.
The NCAA Tournament seemed straightforward enough: The undefeated Wildcats were poised to be the first team in college basketball history to go 40-0. That’s still possible, but the logic behind many of the brackets has already gone up in flames. Two third-seeds, Baylor and Iowa State, have fallen to upstarts Georgia State and UAB. And don’t forget the women’s bracket, where UConn seems destined for its third consecutive title. No matter what, there’s enough chance of upset to drive calculating fans to distraction.