They’re throwing the book at him. General Robert B. Abrams has ordered that the former Taliban captive face a court-martial on desertion charges. Bergdahl abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009, prompting a military manhunt and resulting in the 29-year-old being held captive for five years by extremists. An earlier Army investigation had ruled that prison would be “inappropriate” for the former kidnap victim, but Abrams’ decision means Bergdahl — whose case is being explored by the hugely popular podcast, Serial, this year — could face life behind bars.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’ve struck the right note. French voters answered the socialists’ call yesterday, delivering a blow to Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN), which had dominated last week’s preliminary elections. Instead, Nicholas Sarkozy’s conservative opposition took the lead, with the anti-immigration FN failing to win a single region after ruling socialists strategically pulled out of key races. Le Pen accused rivals of collusion but noted the FN’s “inexorable rise” — they garnered at least 20 percent of votes in all but three regions — vowing, “Nothing can stop us now.”
Negotiators from nearly 200 nations passed a revolutionary climate accord in Paris this weekend in what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is hailing a big win for the global marketplace. Some business leaders and politicians have come out swinging, denying that the agreement, which requires all countries to regularly publish their plans for dealing with global warming, will have a transformative impact. Critics say it will cost jobs in key sectors, but Kerry points to new opportunities, saying, “There are jobs to be created, money to be made.”
He’s cruising ahead. A new poll by Bloomberg Politics and The Des Moines Register shows GOP voters in Iowa now favor the Texas senator to the real estate mogul by 10 points. While 21 percent of caucusgoers support Donald Trump in the key state, Cruz — riding a 21-point jump — has 31 percent on his side. Cruz’s campaign cites use of psychological data for its success, and some experts predict he’ll become the top choice of more far-right Republicans in the months ahead.
How high will they go? Interest rates are set for a bump, with the Federal Reserve preparing a widely expected quarter-point lift this week, its first hike in nearly a decade. Top economic experts forecast an additional two to four increases throughout 2016, and international financial institutions say they’re poised to respond if the Fed increases global borrowing costs. While Chair Janet Yellen has called for gradual increases, some economists expect the benchmark rate to rise by as much as 300 basis points over the next 24 months.
Russian warship fires on Turkish boat ‘to avoid collision.’ (CNN)
Egypt claims there’s no proof of terrorism in Sinai plane crash. (Al Jazeera)
French teacher admits to fabricating story about being stabbed by extremist. (France 24)
Gun control activists call for change on 3rd anniversary of Sandy Hook shooting. (Reuters)
Missing Chinese Fosun chief Guo Guangchang returns to work. (SCMP)
Investors brace for volatility after huge junk bond drop. (WSJ) sub
He says he’s the victim. The embattled comedian filed suit against seven women saying their claims of drugging and abuse are “malicious, opportunistic, false, and defamatory.” In addition to personal emotional harm, the suit claims the accusations cost the 78-year-old work and wages including a planned NBC sitcom revival and a Netflix comedy special. The suit does not address the dozens of other public accusers but analysts say Cosby’s lawyers likely targeted this particular group because they filed a joint suit against him in Massachusetts. A lawyer for the women dismissed the suit as “a bit retaliatory” and “curious.”
Time is money. The U.S. Treasury stirred up so much excitement with last summer’s announcement that a woman would be pushing Alexander Hamilton from his prime $10 bill real estate that 1.5 million Americans weighed in. Snowed under by opinions, it has now pushed back its highly anticipated Jan. 1 announcement of which woman will grace the redesigned note in 2020. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the government needs more time to thoroughly review all its options before deciding sometime next year which female best fits the bill.
Would they ever give Italy the boot? Sardinia has begun teaching the local Sardo language in primary and middle schools, alongside Italian and English, in a bid to retain the island’s rich cultural identity. So far, they’ve invested more than 900,000 euros in the project — a significant chunk of Sardinia’s total annual budget of roughly 8 billion euros. But this is about more than just their ancient mother tongue. The islanders are also expressing their secessionist spirit through heritage preservation, increasingly using language as a political tool.
That’s not how it rolls. The online giant has temporarily suspended sales of some of this year’s trendiest gifts: self-balancing two-wheeled scooters. Manufacturer Swagway says Amazon is seeking assurances that the devices meet specific battery and charger safety standards following several reported fires linked to the so-called hoverboards. A number of airlines have also banned them as a precaution. Sales by smaller competitors may be harder to regulate, but Swagway and other big players are taking the wheel to put safety first.
Remember when Taylor and Apple were never, ever getting back together? That’s all changed: In honor of her 26th birthday yesterday, the pop princess took to Twitter to announce an upcoming film of her 1989 world tour— available exclusively through Apple Music. It’s a power move for the company, and for Swift, who’s been flexing her branding muscles lately. She’s applied to trademark the phrase “blank space,” the title 1989 and the word “Swiftmas” — and with her film debuting Dec. 20, she might be sparking a whole new romance.
This tiger has just been caged. The Bengals were off to a 10-2 start before their two-time Pro Bowler quarterback went down with a hand injury in yesterday’s 33-20 loss to Pittsburgh. Dalton, 28, suffered a fractured thumb that could keep him out until next season. Sources say he’ll be evaluated today with an outside chance of a return for the playoffs. But seeing the league’s top passing QB sidelined dampens Cincinnati fans’ hopes of what was looking like a championship-caliber season.