Here is some stuff in the news today...
Time's Person of the Year is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom they dub "Chancellor of the Free World." And give her the cover with a really unflattering painting. Merkel is the first individual woman selected as Time's X of the Year since then-president of the Philippines Corazon Aquino was named Woman of the Year in 1986. In 1999, Time changed the annual year-end honorific, which had almost exclusively been a "Man of the Year" since its inception, to "Person of the Year," but it merely created an illusion of parity. Anyway. Congratulations to Chancellor Merkel, who probably couldn't give less of a shit.
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year is Serena Williams, and she gets to sit on a golden throne on her cover. Chancellor of the Free Multiverse!
Welp: "In a literally world-changing deal that was almost unthinkable just a year ago, some two hundred leading nations unanimously embraced a plan that will leave most of the world's fossil fuels unburned. As part of a concerted effort to avoid catastrophic climate change, the world unanimously committed to an ongoing effort of increasingly deeper emissions reductions aimed at keeping total warming 'to well below 2°C [3.6°F] above preindustrial levels.' The full text of this Paris Agreement [pdf] goes even further, with the parties agreeing 'to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.'" This (still imperfect) deal was better than for which I'd hoped, but I wonder if it happened soon enough...?
[Content Note: Extreme weather; video may autoplay at link] In totally unrelated news (ahem): More than 700,000 people in the Philippines have been evacuated as Typhoon Melor batters the central coastal areas. Fortunately, the storm has weakened, but it still has winds that are the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane. Also fortunately, "the storm was not expected to make landfall over densely populated areas."
[CN: White supremacy] GOOD: "France's far-right Front National has failed to win control of any regions in the final round of local elections despite a historically high score in the first-round when it was ranked as the most popular party in France. The defeat of the FN was down to mass tactical voting, an increase in turnout and warnings by the left that what it called the 'antisemitic and racist' party would bring France to its knees. All this combined to stop the FN translating its huge first-round score of nearly 28% into the overall control of any region. ...The Socialist prime minister, Manuel Valls, deliberately avoided any triumphalism. 'Tonight there is no relief, no triumphalism, no message of victory,' he said. 'The danger of the far right has not been removed–far from it–and I won't forget the results of the first round and of past elections.'"
[CN: War on agency] "Republicans Put Anti-Choice Language into New Education Law." Because of course they did. "Buried deep in the 391-page Every Student Succeeds Act (S. 1177) is a section that references an existing requirement in the Public Health Service Act that 'school-based health centers,' which receive public funds, may not provide abortions."
[CN: Homophobia] Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio ain't done fighting same-sex marriage, despite the fact the Supreme Court has already decided its constitutionality: "Rubio sat down with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Sunday and reiterated his opposition to marriage equality insisting that the issue is not settled law. Rather than pursue a federal marriage amendment if he's president, Rubio says he'll appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Obergefell ruling as unconstitutional."
[CN: Privacy violations] Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz's campaign is bragging about how its data-mining exploits are turning him into the front runner. And not only is Cruz employing "a team of statisticians and behavioral psychologists" to help micro-target voters, but: "The Cruz operation has deepened the intensity of the effort and the use of psychological data. ...Some of the data comes from typical sources, such as voters' consumer habits and Facebook posts. Some is homegrown, such as a new smartphone app that keeps supporters in touch while giving the campaign the ability to scrape their phones for additional contacts." THE FUCK. "Cruz, a critic of excessive government data collection, has been notably aggressive about gathering personal information for his campaign." LOL! That's a nice way of calling him a gross hypocrite.
[CN: Disablist language] Donald Trump isn't very happy that Cruz is nipping at his heels: "Trump says Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is 'a bit of a maniac' who doesn't have the 'right temperament' to be president. 'The way he's dealt with the Senate—where he goes in frankly like a bit of a maniac—you never get things done that way,' Trump said on Fox News Sunday. 'You can't walk into the Senate and scream and call people liars and not be able to cajole and get along with people. He'll never get anything done. That's the problem with Ted.' Trump, on the other hand, says he has a 'much better temperament' than Cruz." Okay, player.
Gallup: "After the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, Americans are now more likely to name terrorism as the top issue facing the U.S. than to name any other issue—including those that have typically topped the list recently, such as the economy and the government. About one in six Americans, 16%, now identify terrorism as the most important U.S. problem, up from just 3% in early November." Yes, after the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino (and Colorado Springs, ahem), but also after an enormous amount of fearmongering and Islamophobia, which I daresay has more to do with the uptick in people fearing terrorism than even the actual attacks themselves.
[CN: Guns] The "mock mass shooting" staged at the University of Texas campus over the weekend "was drowned out by a much larger group of counter-protesters armed with fart guns. ...While just a handful of people attended the mock shooting, [UT alumnus Andrew Dobbs'] counter-protest attracted about a hundred people shouting slogans like 'We fart in your general direction.'" LOL. Perfection. I'm super relieved that the jerkbags who staged the mock mass shooting didn't get anyone hurt.
Do you want to be an astronaut? Well, NASA is hiring! "Recently named the best place to work in the federal government for the fourth year in a row, NASA is looking for the best candidates to work in the best job on or off the planet. The astronaut candidate application website now is live and accepting submissions through Feb. 18. ...'NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars and we're looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to help get us there,' said NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden. 'Today, we opened the application process for our next class of astronauts, extraordinary Americans who will take the next giant leap in exploration. This group will launch to space from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft and blaze the trail on our journey to the Red Planet.'"
And finally! Two little doggehs named Dora and Squishy become friends. GOOD GRIEF THIS IS TOO CUTE! ♥