Today’s edition of quick hits:
* AirAsia Flight 8501: “Hope faded Tuesday for any of the 162 people aboard AirAsia Flight 8501 after authorities confirmed that debris and bodies sighted were from the plane.”
* Serious protests in Russia: “Several thousand people rallied near Red Square on Tuesday to protest the conviction of the top Kremlin critic and his brother, in one of the boldest opposition demonstrations in Russia in years. The unsanctioned protest came hours after Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner and chief foe of President Vladimir Putin, was found guilty of fraud and given a suspended sentence of 3-1/2 years. His brother was sent to prison.”
* UK: “A health worker who returned from West Africa and was found to have Ebola when she arrived home in Scotland was transferred on Tuesday to Britain’s designated treatment center for the disease in London. The authorities also reported that two more people were being tested for the virus.”
* President Obama’s approval rating has reached a 16-month high in Gallup polling. All of those assumptions congressional Republicans made after the midterm elections are looking a little shaky right now.
* Gun violence: “Authorities in northern Idaho say a 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed a woman after he reached into her purse at a Wal-Mart store and her concealed gun fired.”
* Bolstering the Gallup data we discussed earlier: “The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index increased to 92.6 in December, the New York-based private research group said today. While the gain was less than forecast, the gauge is close to the seven-year high reached two months ago. Perceptions of current economic conditions advanced to the highest since February 2008.”
* Nuclear talks: “Iran and six world powers are set to resume low-level talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva on Jan 15, with wide gaps remaining in their positions, the Iranian foreign minister said.”
* I guess I need a new chart: “With the 113th Congress now in the history books, we conducted a final tally of our nation’s legislative productivity – in terms of both total laws passed and of substance. Our calculation finds that the 113th just barely avoided the dubious title of ‘least productive Congress in modern history.’ But that’s only because of an exceptionally active lame duck session.”
* Counter-terrorism: “A Pentagon official confirmed to CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin that a key al-Shabab leader named Abdishakur, also known as Tahliil, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in the vicinity of Saakow, Somalia Monday. Abdishakur was the chief of intelligence and the head of a unit of al-Shabab responsible for external operations, or suicide attacks.”
* Immigration: “The number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico who were caught trying to enter the country illegally took a dramatic plunge in 2014 to historic lows never seen before, according to fresh analysis released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.”
* Hmm: “The coldest it has been on this day in Anchorage, Alaska, since 1954 is 20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. The coldest it has been on New Year’s Eve in that same time period is even colder: -25. But this year, the lows are expected to be 33 and 27 degrees respectively – meaning that 2014 will be the first year on record that the temperature didn’t drop below zero.”
* LWV: “While defending his decision to speak at an event for a while nationalist group in 2002, Scalise explained that he had a policy of speaking to all groups at the time regardless of political views. Scalise said he spoke at a League of Women Voters event and described the organization as ‘a pretty liberal group.’ But the League of Women Voters took issue with Scalise’s description.”
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.