It’s a start. Nearly 200 nations attending U.N-sponsored climate summit unanimously agreed yesterday to a deal setting goals for halting the increase of carbon emissions, limiting global warming to “well below” 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels and raising at least $100 billion annually to help reach those objectives. President Obama said the deal “offers the best chance we have to save the one planet we have.” The deal also heartened long-ignored climate scientists, but they warn that it won’t work unless the world aggressively enforces its targets.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Did he go too far? Many condemned Donald Trump last week for advocating a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. But 35 percent of Republican voters put him on top of primary polls. Now a new survey shows fellow GOP candidate Ted Cruz surging 10 percentage points ahead of the Donald in Iowa, home of the crucial February caucuses. Previously cordial with the Texas senator, Trump went on the attack, calling Cruz “a little bit of a maniac.” Now that the gloves are off, will the senator come out swinging?
Prepare for takeoff. When polled, 97 percent of economists predict — thanks to the U.S. unemployment rate falling to just 5 percent — that the central bank will raise interest rates on Wednesday for the first time in nine years by a quarter-percentage point. The hike is likely enough that experts believe the market will react more to Chair Janet Yellen’s message about what lies ahead than to the policy change itself. She and her colleagues face the delicate task of reassuring investors about a cautious trajectory without getting locked into statements that risk putting markets into a tailspin.
He may not be the enemy of their enemy. Still, the Paris attacks have driven France, and perhaps Germany, to consider what’s previously been unthinkable: making common cause with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to attack ISIS. But whose side is he on? Fighters for the self-described caliphate recently grabbed a town after Assad’s Russian allies bombed it in what’s become a recurring “coincidence.” And it gets messier: Turkey’s pitting rebels against Western-allied Kurds, while Iran has reportedly conscripted up to 20,000 Afghan Shiite refugees — now marching into battle to defend the Syrian regime.
Raping and pillaging are the hallmarks of Boko Haram and ISIS. While traumatized women are given health supplies, the United Nations Population Fund — which receives U.S. support — is unable to offer rape survivors safe abortions. The 1973 Helms amendment prevents American aid from being used to fund abortions for “family planning,” but is enforced without exception. While Obama has said the sexually assaulted should receive such assistance, he surprisingly has been unwilling to change the policy, leaving women to resort to unsafe alternatives and their advocates asking why we’re not helping these victims of war.
French Far-Right Loses Big in Regional Elections, Man Shot by LA Deputies Appears Armed in New Images
Projections: Conservatives crushing far-right in French regional vote. (AP)
Authorities cite photos, video as proof fatal LA shooting was justified. (LA Times)
U.S. visa authorities missed San Bernardino shooter’s radicalization. (NYT)
Saudi women help elect one of their own in first chance to vote. (BBC)
Golden State Warriors’ record win streak ends in Milwaukee. (USA Today)
It’s another big gain. The Crimson Tide’s star running back has amassed impressive stats: 1,986 yards on 339 carries, breaking Herschel Walker’s single-Southeastern Conference conference rushing record and leading the nation in rushing touchdowns. Yesterday, he won college football’s highest individual honor, beating stellar contenders Deshaun Watson, quarterback for top-ranked Clemson, and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, arguably the best RB in the country. Most of all, said Alabama Coach Nick Saban, Henry has been dependable, doing as much for his No. 2-ranked team “as anybody could have done … or has ever done.”
This won’t go down well. The widely reviled pharmaceutical entrepreneur who gouged HIV patients for Daraprim is also apparently the buyer of Wu-Tang Clan’s newest album, of which there is only a single copy. The 32-year-old reportedly spent $2 million on Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which has never been heard outside the band’s inner circle. Shkreli, now sparking new outrage by hiking prices for Chagas disease treatments, says he hasn’t listened to the record yet — but he would if Taylor Swift wants to join him.
Forget passwords. Thumbprints, retina scans, heartbeats and brain waves are the brave new authenticators for our mobile devices and bank accounts. By the end of 2015 an estimated 650 million people will be using biometric data access. And in January, a fingerprint-triggered, NRA-approved gun lock will hit the market. Privacy advocates warn that this information can also be stolen — hackers have already cracked Apple’s Touch ID — with no way to reset fingertips or eyeballs. But experience will ultimately determine if convenience and personalization outweigh the risks.
An education might keep ex-offenders from cycling back to prison — if Washington doesn’t get in the way. The national Common Core standards have found detractors among conservatives, liberals, parents and teachers alike. Now you can add the incarcerated to that list. Advocates working with prison populations say the Core has caused GED pass rates to plummet. The standards’ defenders believe the changes are bringing education — and college prep — into the next century, while the system’s critics argue it’s made upward mobility even harder for those who need it most.
It’s the latest culinary buzz. Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis seeks to revolutionize how the world consumes weed the way Julia Child rocked American dinner tables with classic French cooking. But before you abandon your stoner brownies, be forewarned: While the crowdfunded work promotes the “beneficial herb with pleasant effects,” each recipe for a home-cooked high requires a $300 helping of ganja and such time-consuming procedures as “decarboxylation” to activate the drug. But the book could well be the hot buy for the holidays, while legalization simmers on the front burner.