“As a newsman, I want to salute whoever came up with the term ‘polar vortex.’ It is terrifying but still sounds all science-y. A lesser meteorologist could have overreached with ‘arctic coldnado’ but ‘polar vortex’ is restrained but menacing.” – Stephen Colbert, reporting on the extreme and record breaking cold that affected most of the nation this week
Nation: Utah won’t recognize same-sex marriages.
Following an injunction issued by the Supreme Court staying same-sex marriage in Utah, the state has announced that it will not recognize those marriages that had been temporarily allowed by a previous federal ruling. Officials say that amounts to more than a thousand marriages performed in the 17 days that elapsed between rulings. “Please understand this position is not intended to comment on the legal status of those same-sex marriages – that is for the courts to decide,” stated the governor’s Chief of Staff Derek Miller in a letter to cabinet officials.
World: More fighting in Syria.
Fighting in Syria has increased as Syrian rebels have begun to fight a faction of al-Qaida knows as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). ISIS fighters, who entered the country initially to join the Syrian rebels in their fight to topple the regime, have drawn the ire of their once-allies for their brutal tactics and attacks on activists and journalists. Local activists have called the group’s tactics, including suicide attacks and the use of land mines, “monstrous.” Rebels must now decide whether to fight ISIS extremists, or continue their campaign against the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad, giving the Syrian regime an advantage.
Politics: Chris Christie in hot water.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie issued an apology Thursday, saying he was “embarrassed and humiliated,” after a scandal surfaced tying him an act of political payback. It appears that Christie’s office was involved in a bridge closure that caused massive traffic jams, orchestrated to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ, who failed to endorse Christie for re-election. Christie says he had no knowledge of the actions taken by staff “under his watch.” The governor will travel to Fort Lee to personally apologize to the town’s mayor.
Business: JPMorgan settles.
JPMorgan Chase will pay $2.6 billion to settle criminal and civil charges that it failed to alert authorities about warning signs that might have stopped Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme long before the scam’s 2008 collapse. In the latest of several embarrassing settlements, the nation’s largest bank Tuesday avoided prosecution by acknowledging it turned a blind eye to suspicions about Madoff’s financial operation for years — even while rushing to withdraw millions of its own funds before the financier’s scheme imploded. “JPMorgan — as an institution — failed, and failed miserably,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara at a news conference announcing the settlements.
Sports: Lindsey Vonn out.
The Sochi Olympics will be missing one of its stars this February, as Lindsey Vonn announced Tuesday that she will be unable to compete at the upcoming Games. Vonn is the most successful female Alpine skier in American history with 17 World Cup titles and a gold medal in downhill from the 2010 Olympics. Last February Vonn tore ligaments in her knee, and then partially tore the same ACL in November. On December 21 in France, Vonn re-injured her right knee, requiring surgery and forcing her out of the Winter Games. Heralded as the face of the Games, Vonn broke the news on Facebook saying, “I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi…the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level.”
Women’s Affairs: New to SNL.
Saturday Night Live adds Sasheer Zamata as the newest cast member to its show, making her the sketch comedy’s first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007. Zamata will make her SNL debut on its next live show set for January 18. The lack of diversity among female cast members made waves last fall, yet producer Lorne Michaels already had begun a search, and Zamata was among 12 comedians who received callbacks and were invited to test on the SNL stage. Congrats, Sasheer; we’ll be watching!