Good morning and welcome to Fresh Intelligence, our roundup of the stories, ideas, and memes you’ll be talking about today. In this edition, the Oregon standoff winds down, Trump sparks debate mayhem, and Santa Claus is out of control. Here’s the rundown for Thursday, January 28.
In a literal calm before the storm, most of the country can look forward to mild weather today and tomorrow before storms sweep across the West Coast and Great Lakes region over the weekend. [Weather.com]
Three Arrested After Militia Leader Tells Followers “Go Home”
The FBI arrested three more people suspected of occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon on Wednesday evening. Authorities have established check points around the federal building, and eight people were stopped while leaving the refuge. The other five were released. Hours earlier, Ammon Bundy, the group’s leader, urged his followers to abandon the building in a statement read by his lawyer during his first court appearance. “Please stand down. Go home and hug your families. This fight is now in the courts,” he said. Bundy was arrested along with seven others on Tuesday following a standoff that left one militia member dead. [ABC]
EARLY AND OFTEN
There Are Now Debates About Debates
Responding to pressure from the Clinton camp to attend an unsanctioned debate on February 4, Bernie Sanders upped the ante, challenging Hillary Clinton to three new debates: “One in March, April and May and none on a Friday, Saturday or holiday weekend.” Trump’s new “no debates” strategy is starting to make sense. [Business Insider]
They’re Just Like Us: Donald Trump Double-Books
Lest you think Trump’s refusal to attend Thursday’s debate is politically motivated, it turns out the Donald just has other plans — namely, hosting a last-minute fundraiser for injured veterans. Veterans groups aren’t exactly thrilled. [CNN]
Fox Ain’t Too Proud to Beg
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly tried to convince Trump to appear at the debate during a Wednesday night interview. The candidate wouldn’t budge — unless you count congratulating yourself for not calling Megyn Kelly a bimbo as budging.
Racism Does Not Respect Party Lines
In a timely reminder that the Republican Party does not have a monopoly on racial insensitivity, MSNBC’s own Chris Matthews wondered — out loud and on television — “Who’s going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?” adding, “Who’s gonna watch a debate between Rubio, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz? Who cares?” [Politico]
THE STREET, THE VALLEY
The Fed Does Nothing
As expected, the Federal Reserve has decided to leave interest rates unchanged following this week’s meeting. Still, the language of their statement made it clear that they are preparing to move rates in the near future. [CNBC]
Totally Taking Over Lives Very Profitable
While PayPal and eBay each released earnings reports today, all eyes were on Facebook. The somewhat creepy behemoth didn’t disappoint, posting revenues of well over $5 billion last quarter, up more than 50 percent from a year ago. Stocks of course responded favorably to the news, jumping up 12 percent. [USA Today]
Does a Pink Mustache Mean Nothing?
In a class-action lawsuit, Lyft, the chauffeur service that isn’t Uber, was forced to pay out $12.5 million to disgruntled drivers. Still, the company is celebrating. They have won the right to continue to treat drivers as contractors and not employees, which means no benefits, no vehicle maintenance, and no health coverage. Uber, which is currently dealing with a similar lawsuit, is no doubt quite relieved. [CNET]
So Begins the Era of the Dick GIF
Tinder is about to get even more graphic. The dating app just released an update that allows users to send GIFs to their matches. Before you even ask, Tinderers will be limited to the GIFs available through Giphy, but it’s only a matter of time before someone finds the Giphy equivalent of the eggplant emoji. [The Verge]
An Ominous Departure at Bloomberg
Kathy Kiely, the Washington news director for Bloomberg Politics, stepped down yesterday over concerns the news service would not be allowed to fairly report on its owner Michael Bloomberg’s decision to run for president. Jeez, what good is literally buying the media if people are just going to quit all the time? [HuffPo]
Tank-Man Pictures? What Tank-Man Pictures?
Corbis, Bill Gates’s massive photo-licensing service, has been purchased by the Chinese media company Visual China Group. The sale is ringing alarm bells with activists who question the wisdom of selling the rights to historic images, including the famous Tiananmen tank man, to a Chinese company. It seems most of the concern is misplaced as the images, though licensed to Corbis, are not owned by Corbis. [NYT]
Wall Street Journal Prepares for Media to Go Digital
Editor-in-chief Gerard Baker announced a thorough restructuring of the Wall Street Journal’s newsroom yesterday. The changes, including changes at the paper’s Page One, are intended to reflect an increasingly digital media landscape. Timely. [CapitalNY]
Thursday is the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. NASA is observing its annual Day of Remembrance, honoring the seven-member Challenger crew, as well as the three men killed in 1967’s Apollo 1 fire, and the seven astronauts lost when the shuttle Columbia broke apart while reentering the Earth’s atmosphere in 2003. [Space.com]
R.I.P. Adele “Hello” parodies. You were fun while you lasted, but when Mike Huckabee picks up on a trend, it’s truly over. [Reuters]
OTHER LOCAL NEWS
“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” Proves Prescient
After decades of breaking and entering, Saint Nicholas has finally been picked up on charges of driving under the influence. The perhaps too jolly Santa Claus — of Spokane, Washington, not the North Pole — was pulled over for driving the wrong way down a one-way street.
Beer Lover’s Eyes Too Big for His Stomach
A Melrose Park, Illinois, man pled guilty to stealing beer yesterday and was sentenced to three years in prison. Sound strict? Well he stole 43,200 beers, but who’s counting? [Chicago Tribune]
Congress Tackles Flint Water Crisis
Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, the two Democratic senators from Michigan, are planning to unveil legislation in response to the ongoing Flint water crisis later today. The legislation will be introduced as amendments to an unrelated energy bill, because America. [CNN]
Rubio, Cruz to Enjoy a Few Hours in the Spotlight
The much-anticipated final Republican debate before the Iowa caucus is set to take place tonight at 9 p.m. ET. Watch out for the fantastically coiffed elephant in the room.
Cancer Moon Shot Commences
President Obama will create a White House task force on cancer today, fulfilling a promise he made in his State of the Union address. The group will include members from 13 government agencies and will meet officially on Monday for the first time. [NYT]