Northeast braces for ‘historic’ storm

NWSsnow (Snowfall forecast – image: National Weather Service)

Millions of people in the northeastern United States are getting ready for what looks set to be one of the worst winter storms to hit the region in years. Blizzards are predicted for both New York City and Boston, where “potentially historic” conditions, and anything between two and three feet of snow is expected.

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio said that New Yorkers “should prepare for something worse than we have ever seen before.”

More than 3,000 flights have already been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday at major airports in Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

The Weather Channel‘s Jim Cantore is headed to Boston for their live coverage, always a sign of where the worst is expected. But as Eric Holthaus writes at Slate:

Not that long ago, the thing to do on a week like this would be to camp out in front of the Weather Channel and live vicariously through Jim Cantore. But now the best place to watch a storm is on Twitter. Predictably, weather Twitter is already freaking out…

* WORLD * Voters in Greece emphatically rejected austerity policies to hand a national election victory to the left-wing party Syriza and its charismatic young leader Alexis Tsipras, rallying behind his slogan “Hope is Coming!” Tsipras told thousands of jubilant supporters in Athens: “Greece leaves behinds catastrophic austerity, it leaves behind fear and authoritarianism, it leaves behind five years of humiliation and anguish.”

Syriza will now have to form a governing coalition and its victory, while expected, was greater in scale than anticipated, setting Greece on a collision course with the rest of the EU and reviving uncertainties over the direction of the EuroZone and the single currency. Both the Euro and oil prices slipped early on Monday.

Japan is understood to be working with Jordan and other countries in an attempt to secure the release of a second Japanese hostage, following apparent confirmation that another had been killed by Islamic State.

At least 30 people were killed in renewed violence in Ukraine, with pro-Russian separatists blamed for artillery attacks on residential areas of the town of Mariupol – including this dramatic raw video from the Associated Press:

(Associated Press)

Eighteen people, including a prominent female activist, were killed during protests in Cairo marking the anniversary of the ouster of Egypt‘s President Hosni Mubarak four years ago.

In India, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi announced a deal on nuclear trade and a 10-year framework agreement for defense co-operation. Al Jazeera looks at why Obama’s trip to India is so important.  You can watch a live stream of the Republic Day parade, via Doordarshan, here.

Aboriginal rights protests disrupted the Australia Day parade in Melbourne. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Abbott prompted an angry reaction from Republicans by deciding to bestow Australia’s highest honor on Prince Philip, husband of the British monarch.

Rev Libby Lane will be ordained as the Church of England’s first woman Bishop on Monday.

A giant asteroid will pass the earth at a relatively safe distance on Monday. If you can’t see it with the naked eye, you can watch via the Virtual Telescope project here.

* POLITICS * With Chris Christie forming a PAC, there are now about two dozen potential hopefuls in the frame for the Republican presidential nomination. Some of them took their case to GOP voters in Iowa over the weekend, with former HP CEO Carly Fiorina perhaps the breakout star.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was the victim of a phone hoaxer claiming to be the director of GCHQ, prompting a review of Downing Street security procedures. The “imposter” apparently told the Evening Standard “I was off my face on booze and cocaine.”

* BUSINESS *  Irish airline Aer Lingus looks set to accept a takeover bid from IAG, which also has controlling stakes in British Airways and Iberia.

Over the weekend, two of the web’s largest travel sites took a step towards amalgamating, when Expedia bought Travelocity for $280m.

* MEDIA * WikiLeaks protested after it emerged that Google had handed over emails of some of its staff to the US government, The Guardian reports.

Christopher Kompanek at the Washington Post has a Q&A with Larry Wilmore on the comedian’s first week hosting The Nightly Show on Comedy Central.

* CULTURE * As the Hollywood awards season continues, the Producers’ Guild awards were held on Saturday and the 21st Screen Actors Guild awards on Sunday, offering some further signposts ahead of next month’s Academy Awards.

Sunday night was Burns Night, in honor of Scotland’s national poet. Here’s what it is and how it’s celebrated around the world.

* SPORTS * Mongolian-born Hahuko won his 33rd career Grand Sumo championship, the most in the sport’s 270-year history.

Twenty years ago, Manchester United’s enigmatic French winger Eric Cantona leapt over the pitchside barriers at Selhurst Park, diving feet-first at an opposing fan. Jim White wonders what if a similar incident happened today?

In what ESPN’s Bob Ley described as “the most surreal press conference of the century” New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick invoked a scientific explanation for DeflateGate before admitting “I’m not a scientist” and referencing the movie “My Cousin VinnySports Illustrated looks at the legal ramifications of his comments.

Bill Nye, who actually is a scientist, said Belichick’s explanation didn’t make any sense, while in its cold open, Saturday Night Live went for the Few Good Men analogy:

(Saturday Night Live/YouTube)

Meanwhile, there was apparently a Pro Bowl game Sunday.

And an NHL All-Star game.

Over at Major League Baseball, a new era began as Rob Manfred took over as Commissioner from Bud Selig, with a couple of interesting ideas.

The city of Chicago announced that Ernie Banks’ statue – which is currently in storage during Wrigley Field’s renovation – would be moved to Daley Plaza downtown for a public memorial from Wednesday through Saturday.

Finally, a nice touch in the agate of Sunday’s New York Times sports section… ernie (image: New York Times)

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