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The 10-Point: My Guide to the Day's Top News

The Wall Street Journal
Good morning,
This is the final newsletter this week. We will resume the 10-Point on Monday. Wishing you a very merry Christmas!
Covert Affairs
Today the Journal reports exclusively on how the Obama administration pursued secret communications with elements of Syria’s regime over several years in a failed attempt to get President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power. Instead of persuading Mr. Assad to exit, however, the effort may have fed his sense of impunity, hampering attempts to consolidate an international fight against Islamic State. Meanwhile, Western allies are now facing obstacles on many fronts—from the threat of fake Syrian and Iraqi passports to challenges on the battlefield. A new push by Iraqi forces to retake Ramadi appeared to stall yesterday in the face of resistance from Islamic State fighters.
Shopping Maul
The stampede of shoppers away from physical stores to the Web grew more thunderous during the final days before Christmas. Online demand is testing the limits of delivery services and pushing retail chains into deeper, longer promotions than their e-commerce rivals. Retailers have faced challenges this year that include unusually warm weather that has damped demand for coats, sweaters and other winter gear, as well as a decline in spending by tourists visiting the U.S. because of the strong dollar. However, optimistic consumers are keeping the U.S. economy on track for continued modest growth, despite weakness overseas and a manufacturing slump at home.
Junk and Disorder
Third Avenue Management, the investment firm that crashed this month, has become a symbol of junk-bond turmoil. Investors around the world took the fund’s meltdown as an ominous signal. Junk-bond markets tumbled, sparking worries about other mutual funds. As many continue to ask how a mutual fund could unravel so rapidly, we take an inside look at CEO David Barse’s final hours at Third Avenue—just before he was escorted out of the building. Meanwhile, money managers are still hesitant to dive into the riskiest debt as the sector remains volatile. And in markets this morning, global shares were little changed after a rebound in oil brought a long-awaited year-end rally.
Elevator Pitch
Awkward elevator rides may soon be a thing of the past. Many boutique properties are transforming their lifts from boring boxes into forums for art, music and social-media fame. Marriott, for example, is planning to turn the elevators at its new Moxy hotels into photo booths. In one at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, high-definition screens display elaborate video art pieces created specifically for the hotel. Now, the property is featuring a four-minute video that depicts whimsical animated characters ice fishing, skiing and ice skating—and playing catch in a field of snow while wearing bikinis.
TODAY'S VIDEO
Candidates Capitalize on Christmas Swag
That Was Painless
Hillary Clinton’s holiday sweaters, Jeb Bush’s stocking stuffers and Rand Paul’s Christmas mugs are among the festive items candidates are selling ahead of the holidays. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday explains how the White House hopefuls are capitalizing on Christmas spirit.
TOP STORIES
U.S.

New Health Programs for Elderly Poor Make Rocky Start

The Narrow Path to a Carbon Tax
WORLD

New Saudi Budget Expected to Be Squeezed by Low Oil Prices

France Proposes Constitution Change After Terror Attacks
BUSINESS

Big Manufacturers Tighten Supply Chains as Low-Growth Forecasts Spread

The Beatles’ Music Catalog to Become Available on Streaming Services
MARKETS

Big Trader Strikes Back Against CFTC

Big Winners as Fed Raises Rates: Foreign Banks
NUMBER OF THE DAY
$44.9 Million
The number represented by Walt Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Iger’s compensation package for the fiscal year ended in October, marking a decline of 3.4% from the year-earlier period, mostly owing to changes in the value of his pension benefits, according to a regulatory filing.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
It would give me pause. It’s like pick your poison.
Brian Dooley, a New Hampshire Republican, on the prospect of voting for businessman Donald Trump over leading Democratic contender Hillary Clinton. He represents the fears of centrist Republicans, who have grown alarmed over the potential impact of nominating Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz on efforts to retain GOP-held seats.
TODAY'S QUESTION
What do you think of these fears expressed by centrist Republicans? Send your comments, which we may edit before publication, to 10point@wsj.com. Please include your name and location.
—Compiled by Khadeeja Safdar
READER RESPONSE
Responding to yesterday’s question about FIFA boss Sepp Blatter quitting soccer, Marc T. Reichel of South Carolina wrote that “Mr. Blatter, through his arrogance and lack of contriteness, is too busy blaming others rather than admonishing himself for not adhering to basic leadership attributes: core values, transparency, and humility. The 8-year ban is too soft; rather a life ban would be more accommodating for Mr. Blatter.” Paul Schwartz of Florida observed, “When you go off the righteous path, any way to vindicate behavior is to cast aspersions on others. He is a sad commentary on our international sports people who are responsible for the entertainment of millions of fans. Yes, Sepp, you were the godfather of FIFA and created and took advantage of your elevated status.” And Ken Wilcox of Arizona commented, “It’s certainly a long overdue move. For far too long world football (soccer) has been dominated by a corrupt, secretive, money-hungry elite. Perhaps now FIFA can really address the awarding of the World Cup venue to Qatar.”
This daily briefing is named "The 10-Point" after the nickname conferred by the editors of The Wall Street Journal on the lead column of the legendary "What's News" digest of top stories. Technically, "10-point" referred to the size of the typeface. The type is smaller now but the name lives on.
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Copyright 2015 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.   

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