He’s raising the rhetoric. The Republican presidential frontrunner issued a polarizing policy statement, calling for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering America, including refugees and even tourists. The billionaire said he based his stance on what he called hatred ”beyond comprehension” from a significant portion of Muslims toward Americans, doubling down on the notion during a South Carolina rally. The proposal was dismissed even by his conservative 2016 rivals, including Ted Cruz. However, some critics acknowledged Trump’s declaration may further elevate his polls numbers in the wake of last week’s mass shooting in California.
The Presidential Daily Brief
“Freedom is more powerful than fear,” said the U.S. president in a rare televised Oval Office address last night. Seeking to reassure Americans, Obama said the nation faces a very real threat of terrorism, but that war against ISIS is not war against Muslims. He said terrorists, both at home and abroad, must be taken down without Americans giving up their values. Obama didn’t announce major policy shifts, though, leading prominent Republicans like Marco Rubio and Donald Trump to hit back with claims that the president isn’t doing enough to fight terror.
Could the EU be splintering from within? France’s ultra-conservative Front National, led by Marine Le Pen, made huge gains in this weekend’s preliminary polls in what’s seen as a reaction to the Paris terror attacks. The anti-immigrant, anti-EU party, which has never controlled a French region before, trounced both the ruling Socialists and the conservative Les Republicains. Now Socialist candidates in some regions have withdrawn, hoping to throw votes behind Les Republicains for next Saturday’s second round of voting and keep the nation from swinging too far right.
Who’s the aggressor here? The Syrian government has issued a furious rebuke to the coalition of Western countries currently carrying out anti-ISIS airstrikes, saying that one of their planes shot missiles at a Syrian army camp and killed at least three soldiers. The U.S.-led coalition denies any involvement — they had no planes anywhere near the base, they say — and some suspect that the bombs came from a Russian aircraft instead. Nevertheless, Syria is calling on the U.N. Security Council to take action, saying it was an act of “flagrant aggression.”
Someone had to step in. The Chicago PD is in a state of disarray: Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder for shooting Black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times, leading to wide protests. Both the police superintendent and chief of Chicago’s police review board have since resigned. Meanwhile, it was announced that no charges will be filed against an officer who shot and killed Ronald Johnson in October 2014. City Hall says it welcomes the Feds’ civil probe, likely focusing on the use of deadly force and how officers are dealt with afterward.
Blame it on OPEC. In midterm National Assembly elections, Venezuelans have voted overwhelmingly for change, hoping the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) will be an improvement over the ruling Socialists. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, but plunging prices have devastated the economy and sent inflation soaring to 200 percent. MUD is still waiting on several close races, which could give it the supermajority needed to rewrite the constitution … but OPEC’s recent agreement to keep oil supply high, which saw prices hit a nearly seven-year low today, could stymie their efforts at change.
Bernie Sanders rolls out climate change plan. (AP)
Finland plans to bring in universal basic income. (Forbes)
Quake of magnitude 7.2 hits Tajikistan. (NBC)
U.S. holds ceremonies to mark Pearl Harbor Day. (CNN)
Transgender icon Holly Woodlawn dies at 69. (NYT)
FBI probes Sepp Blatter’s role in in bribery scandal. (Bloomberg)
Man charged in London subway stabbings. (CNN)
First 2016 Grammy nominations announced. (E! Online)
Electrolux deal with GE falls through. (Reuters)
It’s the invasion of the pods. The maker of ubiquitous single-serve coffee machines has been acquired by JAB Holding Co., and at a premium of $92 per share — that’s 78 percent over the company’s closing stock price Friday. That’s a surprising infusion of cash for a company which has seen a very public slowdown in business over the last year — but on news of the acquisition, stocks zinged up 73 percent. Keurig’s shareholders still have to weigh in, but the deal is expected to see approval in April.
He’s grateful for all the prayers. The 39th American commander in chief told a Sunday school class at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, yesterday that his brain tumor is gone — and he gave thanks both for the drug pembrolizumab and the congregation’s good wishes. The assembled group erupted into applause upon hearing that Carter’s most recent MRI scan found no traces of cancer. Grandson James Carter confirmed the “incredible news” and said the beloved former peanut farmer will continue undergoing treatment.
It’s almost within reach. Insiders got a taste of Sony’s splash into virtual reality when the company teased 17 games for its forthcoming Playstation VR headset, which will debut in March 2016. Offerings include a futuristic society’s take on office life in the ’90s, flight simulators and 100 Foot Robot Golf, which is exactly what it sounds like. Reviews have been mixed, enjoying the offerings even as tech issues abound. But even critics concede VR gaming is going to be huge, with a projected $30 billion in earnings by 2020.
Move over, Indiana Jones, there’s a new gig in town. These investigators of metropolitan pasts are digging deep to unearth cities’ hidden stories — and better inform future plans. Urbanization is boosting construction spending, and since projects with federal funding require an assessment of potential archaeological impacts, jobs in urban archeology are expected to grow 19 percent over the next decade. The finds can be brilliant, but sometimes historic value dictates that construction projects be moved, which means this profession will increasingly see the past and future come to blows.
“Tonight we are all Parisians,” Bono told a 16,000-strong crowd at AccorHotels Arena last night. Less than a month after the Nov. 13 terror attacks caused the band to cancel gigs, they braved France’s state of emergency for their first of two rescheduled Parisian concerts. U2 paid tribute to the 130 terror victims by projecting their names on a giant screen — but despite rumors, the Irish rockers were not joined by Eagles of Death Metal. The second make-up performance airs live on HBO tonight.
These are the big four. The College Football Playoff selection committee announced its finalists for the second annual postseason rumble. Top-ranked Clemson, the only unbeaten team left in the CFP, will square off against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve. If they prevail, they’ll go up against the winner of the Cotton Bowl, where No. 2 Alabama faces No. 3 Michigan State. However, Las Vegas oddsmakers actually favor Oklahoma by a slight margin, predicting a title bout with Alabama, the only returning squad from last year’s inaugural playoff bracket.