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Week In The News: Polar Vortex, Christie’s ‘Bridge Gate’ And Al Qaeda In Iraq

Polar vortex. Chris Christie and “Bridge Gate.” Al Qaeda in Iraq. Dennis Rodman in North Korea. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie enters a news conference Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Christie has fired a top aide who engineered political payback against a town mayor, saying she lied. Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly is the latest casualty in a widening scandal that threatens to upend Christie's second term and likely run for president in 2016. Documents show she arranged traffic jams to punish the mayor, who didn't endorse Christie for re-election. (AP)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie enters a news conference Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Christie has fired a top aide who engineered political payback against a town mayor, saying she lied. Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly is the latest casualty in a widening scandal that threatens to upend Christie’s second term and likely run for president in 2016. Documents show she arranged traffic jams to punish the mayor, who didn’t endorse Christie for re-election. (AP)

Polar vortex to the max this week.  Al Qaeda flags in Iraq.  And a bridge full of traffic puts Chris Christie in a political jam.  We’ve had Arctic cold in much of the country.  Fallujah and Ramadi overrun with jihadis.  And New Jersey’s governor and his presidential aspirations on a tightrope.  Unemployment’s down to 6.7 percent, but the numbers aren’t so great.  Former defense secretary Bob Gates hits Obama and Biden on Afghanistan.  Dennis Rodman jumps the shark in North Korea.  Apologizes.  This hour On Point: our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Margaret Brennan, CBS News State Department correspondent. (@margbrennan)

Charles Babington, Associated Press Congressional and political reporter. (@cbabington)

Jack Beatty, On Point News analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Leverage in Iraq Tested As Fears of Civil War Mount — “Iraq’s Shiite-led government paused on Wednesday on the brink of a military assault against al Qaeda-linked Sunni militants that posed the risk of exacting a high civilian toll and plunging the country deeper into sectarian conflict. Senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Joseph Biden, have urged Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to secure the support of local Sunni leaders before attacking to drive the extremists from Fallujah, which sits in the heartland of Iraq’s Sunni minority. Many Sunni tribal leaders, alienated and angered by Mr. Maliki, have refused.”

WNYC: N.J. Gov. Christie Faces Traffic Jam Scandal — “Uncovered emails and text messages link Gov. Chris Christie’s administration to a scandal involving the closing of lanes leading to the country’s most traveled bridge. It snarled traffic for days. The emails add evidence to claims from state Democrats that the closure was political retribution for a mayor who did not endorse Christie for re-election.”

Washington Post: A Deep Dive Into the Polar Vortex — “The polar vortex is really just a large air mass that is extremely cold (temperatures fall below -78C, or -108F, during the Northern Hemisphere winter). This concentrated area of cold is encircled by a fast-flowing river of air called the polar night jet. Basically, the jet – with its swiftly moving air current – traps the vortex over and near the poles, north and south.”

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ONPOINT
TODAY
Dec 18, 2014
This handout photo from the Twitter account of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. shows Alan Gross arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The US and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday. (AP)

Following months of secret talks the US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than fifty years.

Dec 18, 2014
A poster for the movie "The Interview" is carried away by a worker after being pulled from a display case at a Carmike Cinemas movie theater, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP)

A big Sony hack gets weirder and wider. And Hollywood and Homeland Security are on edge.

RECENT
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Dec 17, 2014
Germany's Andre Schuerrle, left, celebrates scoring his side's 6th goal as Brazil's goalkeeper Julio Cesar reacts during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Tuesday, July 8, 2014.  Germany went on to win the World Cup championship later that month. (AP)

From the Sochi Olympics and Ray Rice to Lebron’s return to Cleveland, we’ll unpack a big year in sports.

 
Dec 17, 2014
Relatives of a victim of a Taliban attack in a school, mourn over her lifeless body at a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday, killing and wounding scores, officials said, in the highest-profile militant attack to hit the troubled region in months. (AP)

The Taliban take responsibility for killing more than 100 Pakistani schoolchildren. We ask why there, why now.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
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