Was it a quid pro quo? On Sunday, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pardoned his predecessor, 79-year-old Alberto Fujimori, saying the convicted human rights abuser had a degenerative illness and that serving out his 25 years in jail endangered his life. But Kuczynski, opponents note, survived an impeachment vote last week partly due to the abstention of Fujimori’s legislator son, Kenji. Thousands of protesters have flooded the streets of Lima, clashing with police and chanting “No to the pardon!” while Kuczynski argued, “Justice is not vengeance.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s no contest. Russia’s election commission has officially forbidden Alexei Navalny, seen as the strongest potential challenger to Vladimir Putin, from running in Russia’s March 18 presidential contest. The panel said Monday that he’s ineligible due to a corruption conviction, though Navalny’s said the charge was politically motivated. “The procedure that we’re invited to take part is not an election,” Navalny told supporters, calling on them to boycott the election and promising to lead protests across the country. Putin is expected to easily win his fourth term this spring.
He said it loud. Wu Gan, who went by the online handle Super Vulgar Butcher, was known for using boisterous public protest, social media and performance art to shame Chinese officials — and now he’ll spend eight years in jail for “subversion” after a secret trial. Wu had been detained for two years already as part of China’s ongoing crackdown on dissent. Others have been sentenced, but Wu’s punishment is the most severe so far. Undaunted, he responded by saying he was “grateful” for the Communist Party’s “lofty honor.”
You know the drill. President Donald Trump’s ongoing crusade against regulations reportedly includes changes to offshore oil exploration safeguards. Enacted after the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico environmental disaster, the federal rules said to be on the chopping block include required third-party inspections of critical equipment and regulator access to real-time production data. The Interior Department, which enforces exploration rules, might also delete the word “safe” from certain regulations for its ambiguity. If made, the changes could save oil companies an estimated $900 million per year.
Know This: Multiple officials at the Miss America pageant have resigned after leaked emails betrayed disparaging comments about the contestants. A Los Angeles city employee has confessed to leaving a package of horse manure at the home of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to protest the recent GOP tax overhaul. And after a far-right German politician disparaged Berlin’s Holocaust memorial, an artist collective built a small replica of it right outside his window.
Remember This Number: $180 billion. That’s how much money has been invested in plastics production facilities since 2010, a sum that’s expected to increase humanity’s plastic output by 40 percent over the next ten years and fuel the glut of plastic packaging waste.
Talk to Us: Tell us how you really feel. Our electrifying TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is shelving the PC and whipping up debates. Each week we’re posting a provocative question, and we want you to weigh in. This week: Who are the biggest winners and losers of 2017? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, and we might feature your answer next week.
The spirit moved her. Repeating her activist group’s 2014 stunt, a topless member of Ukraine-founded Femen rushed the nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square on Christmas Day, snatching a sculpted life-sized baby Jesus. The disruption occurred two hours before Pope Francis appeared there to deliver his Christmas Day message to 50,000 people. Vatican guards quickly wrestled the figure away from the woman, identified as “sextremist” Alisa Vinogradova on the website for the group, known for bare-breasted demonstrations against Russian President Vladimir Putin and aspiring to achieve “complete victory over patriarchy.”
Talk about sticker shock. Mary Horomanski of Erie, Pennsylvania, got a December electric bill for $284 billion, according to the city’s Times-News. “My eyes just about popped out of my head,” she said, adding that she’d wondered if her Christmas lights were badly installed. But that wouldn’t explain nearly matching Mexico’s 2016 national budget — and her utility, Penelec, confirmed their decimal point was nine places off, with the real bill only $284.46. Such lighting does burn brightly, though, so California hopes to save $1 billion by banning most incandescent bulbs in the new year.
Gotta track ’em all. Researchers have discovered a way to fight potentially deadly mosquitoes using cell phones. Those annoying mosquito buzzes are actually unique wingbeat patterns that can help identify a species when analyzed. And if people can hold off on squashing the pests long enough to capture their shrill sounds via smartphone, the project, called Abuzz, could map infestations to focus health officials’ efforts. So far recordings have been submitted from Malaysia to Germany to Brazil, and they hope to generate a comprehensive atlas once more people hear the buzz.
The gig’s off. New Zealand pop singer Lorde has pulled out of playing a show in Tel Aviv after being asked by Kiwi supporters of a Palestinian human rights-based anti-Israel boycott movement. They said that with the recent U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it’s an especially bad time for Palestinians. The “Royals” singer apologized to Israeli fans and said she hoped that “one day we can all dance.” While many Israeli government critics applauded the move, Israel’s culture minister said she hopes Lorde will change her mind.
They’re calling foul … on the foul calls. The Golden State Warriors delivered a lump of coal to their visiting three-time finals rival, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in a 99-92 win yesterday. But some contend that Kevin Durant made multiple uncalled fouls against LeBron James in the fourth quarter, exposing problems with the NBA’s instant replay rules. If the refs remain silent, they dictate, mistakes can’t be reviewed or corrected. Another kind of replay ensues Jan. 15, when the titans clash again on the Cavs home court.