He’s “hit a wall.” That’s what the South Carolina senator said today as he announced the suspension of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, now barely a blip on national polls. But the chairman of a senate subcommittee on crime and terrorism promised he wouldn’t “suspend my desire to help my country,” and predicted that his party’s eventual nominee would adopt his plan to fight ISIS. Graham, 60, may be missed for his wit — he made a viral video on mobile phone destruction — and bipartisan spirit, daring to acknowledge that Obama “is my president.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
As many as six coalition soldiers may be dead after a suicide bomber on a motorcycle rammed a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol today, local officials said. The attack took place in a village near Bagram Airbase — the country’s largest U.S. facility — and the dead were likely American, although the NATO-led coalition did not reveal nationalities of those killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came little more than a week after another attack near the coalition’s Kandahar Airfield, and may signal a renewed effort to target foreign forces.
This was no accident. Police say they’ve ruled out terrorism as a motive but maintain the young woman they’ve arrested, 24-year-old Lakeisha N. Holloway, intentionally drove her silver minivan onto the sidewalk of South Las Vegas Boulevard last night, killing one person and injuring at least 36 more. She reportedly drove off the street multiple times, slamming into pedestrians, before fleeing. Police say the 3-year-old who was also in the car was unharmed. They’ve filed an initial murder with a deadly weapon charge while conducting a further investigation.
They’re not so popular anymore. Spain’s ruling Partido Popular lost its majority in yesterday’s elections, making Spain the third country this year to see its ruling party ousted after putting harsh austerity measures into place. The nation’s Socialist party, which came in second with 22 percent of the vote to the PP’s 29 percent, has refused to form a coalition — meaning the PP must look to upstart parties Podemos, which is anti-austerity, and Ciudadanos, which got the fewest votes, if it wants to form a government in the coming days.
The world is working together. U.S. and Australian intelligence reportedly passed on information to Indonesian police that allowed them to identify and confine nine suspects. The detainees, linked to ISIS and at least one other terrorist group, are believed to have been planning a Jakarta suicide bombing for Jan. 1 as well as attacks on two Shiite communities. The arrests took place over the weekend — and today Australia and Indonesia signed an agreement to share counter-terrorism intelligence, reflecting Indonesia’s fears that ISIS-inspired militants will further target the largely Muslim nation.
The system is rigged. Since OPEC powers like Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to pump oil unabated over the objections of struggling lesser oil-producing nations, oil prices have plummeted to depths not seen in a decade. Now some crude rates are lower than they were during the financial crisis, and U.S. oil production is stepping up, with 17 new rigs added last week — so even more black gold should glut the market next year. With an unusually warm winter slashing demand for heating oil, Venezuela won’t get a break anytime soon.
91 still missing after landslide in southern China. (BBC)
Hezbollah leader reportedly killed in Syria air strike. (Reuters)
Obama says Trump is ”taking advantage” of working-class fears. (NYT)
Four detained in connection with Air France bomb scare. (CNN)
Slovenian voters rejects bid to legalize same-sex marriage. (AP)
They’ve been pushed out. Both men are suspended from all soccer-related activities and must pay substantial fines. Though they each deny committing ethics violations — Blatter snarked that he’s “sorry for football” — experts say the two will likely never re-establish themselves in the sport. Blatter, 79, had already announced plans to step down — but UEFA President Platini had been widely expected to take over soccer’s global governing body. In February, FIFA members will get to choose among five candidates to lead the organization out from under its cloud of suspicion.
He had one job. Steve Harvey stumbled while emcee-ing the Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas — while reading the winner’s name. He announced that Miss Colombia had won the crown, but after a minute of victory lap, he had to admit that he’d crowned the wrong princess, apologize and hand the tiara over to Miss Philippines. Donald Trump may be chuckling this morning, having sold the pageant in September. NBC had dropped the show over Trump’s comments about Mexico — in his ongoing campaign for a somewhat more complicated job than Harvey’s.
This time, they want to stick the landing. After an exploded rocket and six-month break, Elon Musk’s pet project has planned a new blast-off tonight from Cape Canaveral, Florida. They’d planned to launch Sunday, but punted 24 hours due to weather conditions — because not only are they shooting a rocket into space, but they’re going to try to land its first stage afterwards. That’d be a big first for SpaceX, and tonight’s launch and landing could go a long way to build confidence in Musk’s competency with spaceflight.
It’s lightning in a bottle. Spurred on by the craze for all things natural, wine growers across the world — even in France — are turning to an old method of natural fermentation for sparkling wine. It’s cheaper and less fizzy than champagne, but pétillant naturel, a.k.a. pét-nat, is bubbling up in the wine industry, seducing growers with a cheaper, simpler production method and short fermentation period. Though it’s still a niche product — and trusting natural fermentation is riskier for producers — pét-nat’s capturing its own terroir in the market.
Second time’s the charm. Research from Dr. Nancy Kalish of California State University, Sacramento indicates that there may be something real to those dramatic stories about couples who break up and then find each other again years later. These new flings with old squeezes tended to be lasting and intense, skipping the getting-to-know-you phase — though this only applied to lovers split up by external factors rather than incompatibility. Though Kalish’s results in a second survey were spotty, more research could clear up whether you should cold-call that old flame.