When Christmas arrives on Dec. 25, don’t expect to see any of the partridges in pear trees made famous by the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” According to Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, partridges, as well as turtle doves, have declined precipitously in the United Kingdom. According to the society, the partridge population has dropped by 30 percent and turtle doves by more than twice that.
Provided he lives until Dec. 27, Jiroemon Kimura of Japan will become the man with the longest documented lifespan in modern times. Kimura, who was born on April 19, 1897, will surpass the age at death of Christian Mortensen, who lived 115 years and 252 days. Kimura is also the last man alive to have lived in parts of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.
Wealthy nations that signed onto the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 have until Dec. 31 to achieve a 4.2 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions as part of a United Nations-backed mission to stave off global warming. But with the deadline approaching and the targets almost certainly missed, signatory nations are not certain whether to extend the failed regime or replace it altogether.
Absent an agreement between House Republicans and the Obama White House, federal income taxes will rise on all levels as the tax cuts of former President George W. Bush expire Jan. 1. If the parties do not reach a deal, automatic spending cuts will also take effect across a host of spending programs.
Many new faces will appear at the Jan. 3 swearing-in ceremonies on Capitol Hill when the 112th Congress gives way to the 113th Congress. Among the freshmen, two senators—from Massachusetts and Texas—represent the hopes and aspirations of their parties. From Massachusetts, Democrat Elizabeth Warren arrives in Washington, D.C., with many partisans hoping she has even higher aspirations. Many Republicans think Ted Cruz of Texas can help the GOP receive more Latino votes.