It’s unlikely anyone has survived. A Pakistan International Airlines plane carrying 47 passengers has crashed just outside Islamabad after losing contact with air traffic controllers. Local media and authorities on the ground described horrific scenes, with flaming wreckage strewn across a mountain slope 30 miles north of the capital city. One of the passengers was Junaid Jamshed, a famous Pakistani pop star who over the past decade had reinvented himself as an evangelical Muslim cleric and fashion designer. According to investigators, it’s too early to say what caused the crash.
The Presidential Daily Brief
“President of the divided states of America.” That’s what Time magazine is calling Donald Trump on its cover as it names him the 2016 “Person of the Year.” It’s a distinction bestowed upon nearly all U.S. chief executives since “Man of the Year” issues began in 1927 — and has also gone to Hitler and Stalin. Trump called it a “tremendous honor” that “means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time ,” but said the headline was “snarky,” as “I’m not president yet, so I didn’t do anything to divide.”
They’re searching for survivors. At least 97 people have been killed in a magnitude-6.5 earthquake in Indonesia’s northern Aceh province. The quake struck just off the coast of the island of Sumatra, destroying over 200 homes and many public buildings including hospitals, schools and mosques. Meteorological services say not to expect tsunamis, a small blessing for a region still traumatized by the massive tsunami of 2004. But with local hospitals overwhelmed and many victims still trapped in the rubble, the death toll is expected to rise over the coming days.
Fake news has consequences. The president-elect removed Michael G. Flynn from his transition team for pushing the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton runs a pedophilia ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, even after a man showed up there with an assault rifle to “investigate.” Flynn’s father, retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn — still Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser — has also promoted the baseless allegation, among other conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted a desire to cancel a $4 billion contract for future Air Force One planes.
The tide’s turned. Syrian rebels withdrew from the ancient citadel, leaving government forces in control of most of what was once the country’s most populous city. The advance by President Bashar Assad’s forces ends four years of rebel control of Aleppo’s core and further splits rebel-held neighborhoods. Despite numerous setbacks since Russia — now cozy with the American president-elect — came to Assad’s aid, anti-government forces had vowed never to leave the city. But now U.S. officials are reportedly negotiating for the surrender of other long-held opposition enclaves.
These numbers are yuge. Donald Trump has announced that Japanese telecom company SoftBank plans to invest $50 billion in the U.S. after meeting CEO Masayoshi Son. The president-elect says this move will create 50,000 new American jobs in tech start-ups. Though Trump’s claiming this as a big win, the money’s not coming out of nowhere. SoftBank created the $100 billion fund for global investments in October, and plans to use the money not only for this American investment, but also for deals with Saudi Arabia.
Know This: Survivors remember Pearl Harbor 75 years later as Japan’s leader plans a landmark visit. Hundreds of students have protested a white supremacist speaking at Texas A&M University. And today members of the U.K.’s House of Commons will debate a timetable for leaving the EU.
Don’t Believe This: Facebook has created standardized ratings in an attempt to stamp out fake news and clickbait with a system that lets users rate each headline from “not at all” to “completely” misleading. The effect of bad ratings isn’t clear, but it could potentially screen dubious stories.
Read This: How one comatose man has come to represent America’s many nameless undocumented immigrants: “Whoever he’d been before, whoever he still was inside, to the world around him, he was now a human riddle, a blank slate on which to write a thousand possible names and stories.”
It’s getting toasty. Climate scientists have reported Arctic temperatures 36 degrees above normal in places, with global ice coverage 1.48 million square miles below the 1981-2010 average: That’s equivalent to one India or two Alaskas. Though Antarctica’s sea ice had been expanding recently — evidence, some said, against climate change — it’s now at the lowest early-December level in 34 years. While there are many possible reasons for this decline, wind patterns may be one culprit. Whatever the cause, rising sea levels are likely to accelerate.
They’re feeling lucky. Google has announced that its global data centers and offices will run entirely on solar and wind power by the end of next year, an unprecedented move for the power-hungry tech world. If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because there’s fine print: Google is purchasing as much renewable energy as it uses electricity, but not necessarily on the same grid. But such investment helps reduce the cost of renewables — and provides a potentially groundbreaking model for other big companies.
It’s a new Third Way. Shut out of power, Democrats are turning to an unlikely ally for their comeback: big business. A group called NewDEAL Democrats is seeking to make progressive policies center-stage again via the boardroom. Left-leaning CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Blue Apron’s Joseph Sanberg can have a massive influence on workplace policies like equal pay and family leave. The NewDEAL movement could also pay political dividends with an economic message for a party that critics say is fractured among identity coalitions.
They don’t call her Queen for nothing. Beyoncé smashed into Grammy history again with the most career nominations for a female artist: 62. She’ll have competition for this year’s awards from Adele, nominated in top categories including Album and Song of the Year. Meanwhile, hip-hop’s male stars are lagging: Frank Ocean’s Blonde and Kanye West’s Life of Pablo were excluded, and Drake’s Views is unlikely to be a contender. But if Beyoncé wins eight of the nine awards she’s nominated for, she’ll beat Alison Krauss’ record for most female Grammy wins.
It’s a tragic end. Police found the dynamic running back’s body in a Boulder, Colorado, park Monday night, a suspected suicide. A star for the University of Colorado, Salaam won the 1994 Heisman Trophy, rushing more than 2,000 yards, and was a first-round pick for the Chicago Bears. After being named NFC Rookie of the Year in 1995, he washed out of the NFL after three injury-plagued seasons, and comeback attempts fell short. Colorado coach Bill McCartney paid tribute, remembering Salaam as a team player with a “happy heart.”