Inside today’s POLITICO Playbook, presented by UnitedHealth Group: NEW NARRATIVE: TRUMP, Republicans concede they could lose election — RNC to open offices in all 50 states in move to help Trump — PHOTOS of Bernie’s new lakefront home — B’DAY: Kelley McCormick

Driving the Day BULLETIN -- “Thailand blasts target Phuket and Hua Hin tourist spots,” BBC World News: “In the resort town of Hua Hin, south of Bangkok, four bombs exploded over the last 24 hours. Several blasts also hit the island of Phuket, one [of] Thailand's main tourist destinations, on Friday. No group has said it carried out the attacks, but suspicion is likely to fall on separatist insurgents.” --“MOSCOW (AP) - The Kremlin: Chief of the Russian presidential staff and longtime ally of President Vladimir Putin [Sergey Ivanov] has been fired.”Story Continued Below Happy Friday! YOU CAN’T MAKE IT UP -- On Thursday, Hugh Hewitt tried to get Donald Trump to explain why he was calling Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. Hewitt said, “You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace.” TRUMP replied, “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. He was the most valuable player.” --TWEET this morning from @realDonaldTrump: “Ratings challenged @CNN reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) ‘the founder’ of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON’T GET SARCASM?” **SUBSCRIBE to Playbook: THE NEW NARRATIVE -- Donald Trump and Republicans are beginning to publicly admit that, at this point, it looks like they are going to lose this election. -- “Donald Trump Laments Sliding Polls While Maintaining His Provocative Approach,” by Maggie Haberman and Nick Corasaniti on A14 of the New York Times: “Facing one of the toughest stretches of his presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump on Thursday acknowledged in unusually candid terms that he faced daunting hurdles in crucial states, as he swung wildly at Hillary Clinton to try to blunt her questions about his fitness to serve in the Oval Office. … “‘We’re having a tremendous problem in Utah,’ Mr. Trump said, Continue Reading

CBS News Logo Dueling trackers keeping tabs on Santa

Updated 11:35 p.m. Eastern PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. Volunteers at a U.S. Air Force base monitoring Santa Claus' progress around the world were on track to answer a record number of calls Monday from children wanting to know everything from Saint Nick's age to how reindeer fly. Oh, and when are the presents coming? Phones were ringing nonstop at Peterson Air Force Base, headquarters of the North American Aerospace Command's annual Santa-tracking operation. First Lady Michelle Obama joined in from Hawaii, where she answered phone calls for about 30 minutes. NORAD Tracks Santa was on pace to exceed last year's record of 107,000 calls, program spokeswoman Marisa Novobilski said. They had already received 88,000 calls by Monday evening. But NORAD has some fresh competition: Google has unveiled a new Santa tracker this year. As CNET reports, Google Maps engineers developed a new route algorithm that will let users track Saint Nick's journey on a special Santa Tracker page. "Google has been tracking Santa via Google Earth since 2004," CNET's Don Reisinger notes. "This is the first time the company has launched a broader Santa Tracker tool that competes with NORAD's perennial favorite." CNET: Here comes Google's new Santa special section: Holidays 2012 Volunteers started taking calls at 4 a.m. Mountain time on Monday and will keep updating until 3 a.m. on Christmas morning. NORAD Tracks Santa began in 1955 when a newspaper ad listed the wrong phone number for kids to call Santa. Callers ended up getting the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor, and a tradition was born. Officers played along. Since then, NORAD Tracks Santa has gone global, posting updates for nearly 1.2 million Facebook fans and 104,000 Twitter followers. Volunteer Sara Berghoff was caught off-guard when a child called to see if Santa could be especially kind this year to the families affected by the recent Connecticut school shooting. "I'm from Newtown, Continue Reading

The year 2016 in pictures:Part II

The year 2016 in pictures: Part II Photographs from July to December on a range of topics from around the world. See Part I--By Leanne Burden Seidel 1 Women react during the funeral of a victim of the failed July 15 coup attempt in Istanbul on July 17. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to purge the “virus” within state bodies, during a speech at the funeral of victims killed during the coup bid he blames on his enemy Fethullah Gulen. (Gurcan Ozturk/AFP/Getty Images) 2 A child puts flowers next to traces of blood on the ‘Promenade des Anglais’ where the truck crashed into the crowd during the Bastille Day celebrations, in Nice, France, July 16. According to reports, at least 85 people died and many were wounded after a truck drove into the crowd on the Promenade des Anglais during celebrations of Bastille Day in Nice late July 14. (Ian Langsdon/EPA) 3 A family talks with with relatives through the US - Mexico border fence in Playas de Tijuana, in Tijuana, northwestern Mexico, on July 2. Mexican families reunite with their relatives living in the United States at the border between Tijuana, Mexico and southern California. Republican president-elect Donald Trump wants to extend the wall along the border to keep out would-be immigrants from Mexico, which he says sends drug dealers, criminals and rapists to the United States. (Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images) 4 Republican presidential Candidate Donald Trump gives his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, a kiss as they shake hands after Pence’s acceptance speech to be the vice presidential nominee during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, on July 20. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press) 5 An Indonesian villager catches a chicken after being thrown by Hindu worshippers as an offering during the Yadnya Kasada Festival at crater of Mount Bromo in Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia, July 21. The Kasada ceremony is a way for Tengger Continue Reading

Those we lost in 2017

In 2017 the Jacksonville area lost residents who helped shape its schools, government, spiritual lives, landscape, entertainment, transportation and health care. They were naval aviators, television personalities, road builders, ministers, coaches, philanthropists, civic and business leaders, lawyers, teachers, professors, executives, physicians and musicians. One was even forced by the Japanese to help build the bridge on the River Kwai while another was a beloved elementary school music teacher who was the victim of a home invasion for the second time. Here are some of the notable deaths during the past year: Delavan Baldwin II, who was a week shy of his 90th birthday, died shortly after spending eight years writing an 845-page book about Jacksonville and how hearing “the audible voice of God” while walking his dog led him to immerse himself in evangelism efforts. In the business world, he had a successful banking career, was president of Security Federal Savings and Loan Association and later vice president for North Florida of Florida Federal Savings and Loan. On the spiritual side, he helped launch the charismatic movement among Jacksonville’s historically mainstream congregations. He led 15 Faith Alive retreats in various states and became the first administrator at St. John’s Cathedral, serving as head of properties, finance and ministry to the poor. Capt. Frank Barnes, 62, traveled to 36 countries while serving in the Air Force, including Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. Later he was a contractor and civil servant for the Department of Defense. He and his wife also served as missionaries to Guadalajara, Mexico, with Fire from Heaven Ministries and reached 80,000 people in tent crusades. In 2007 they moved to Fernandina Beach to serve the Go to Nations missionary headquarters as global prayer directors. Louis “Lou” Black, 74, owned and operated such businesses as Avondale Limousine Service, Antique and Unique Continue Reading

This week in odd news: Chase & embrace and ‘Amazing Grace’

Richard A. Somma, Associated Press Published 9:33 am, Friday, January 12, 2018 Now Playing: A keeper at the Milwaukee County Zoo uses fish to coax penguins to line up for their monthly weigh-in. The penguins sometimes wait their turn, but not always. Sometimes they skip the scale to grab a treat, or jump on two at a time. (Jan. 9) Media: Associated Press A LOFTY PROPOSAL: 'MARRY ME' ETCHED IN SNOW, SEEN FROM ABOVE NEVIS, Minn. (AP) — An aviation student in northern Minnesota pulled off a sky-high marriage proposal by writing "Marry Me" in the snow, then flying his long-time girlfriend over his handiwork. Gavin Becker enlisted his family's help to pen the life-changing question using a snow blower on the frozen Eight Crow Wing Lake near Nevis. Ed Becker, Gavin's father, tells KARE-TV that it took about 4½ hours to create the 25-foot-tall (7.5-meter-tall) letters and a huge heart. Gavin Becker, a University of North Dakota aviation student, then rented a plane and took his high-school sweetheart, Olivia Toft, for a trip over the lake Sunday. window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Jamie Greene, AP Image 1of/10 CaptionClose Image 1 of 10 This Dec. 8, 2017, photo provided by the National Aviary shows a female Linnaeus' two-toed sloth born Aug. 21, 2017, named Vivien after "Gone with the Wind" actress Vivien Leigh and hand-raised to serve as an educational ambassador for the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Continue Reading

A College Romance That Led to Murder

The door was locked but the light outside was burning bright, and when the three women arrived for bridge with Mr. Haysom they were puzzled to find no one answering the bell. The cars were in the driveway. Though it was daytime, the porch lamp by the door had been left on. It was April 3, 1985, and the neighborhood was quiet. The women called Annie Massie, a friend who had a spare key, in case something had befallen their bridge partner or his wife. Holcomb Rock Road, where Derek and Nancy Haysom lived, snaked through central Virginia and into the hilly deep woods around Lynchburg. Derek, seventy-two, was a South African engineer. He had met Nancy, an American, known as Cita, in Johannesburg when they were both divorced. They’d joined their families, and, in 1964, they had their only child together, Elizabeth, raised in Nova Scotia, where Derek ran a steel mill. The house on Holcomb Rock Road, which they’d bought a few years earlier for retirement, was modest, but it had a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Nancy dubbed the place Loose Chippings, after a British phrase for scattered gravel on the road. When Massie entered the house, she found the Haysoms sprawled on the ground, caked in gore. Derek Haysom was on his side near a doorway, an arm stretched out before him. Nancy Haysom was in the kitchen, traced in crimson whirls, as if someone had wiped the blood around her like Windex on glass. Both bodies were ragged with stab wounds, and their necks had been cut nearly from ear to ear. Officers soon swarmed the scene. Loose Chippings had a Lynchburg mailing address but sat in Bedford County, outside town. Though the crimes were in the jurisdiction of the county sheriff’s office, a task force from central Virginia joined the case. Chuck Reid and Ricky Gardner, investigators from Bedford, set out to discover what the neighbors knew. Gardner, then twenty-nine, had never worked a homicide before. The house revealed Continue Reading

Lady Gaga prepares to hit Asia for tour, but South Korean Christians pray protest her outfits, music

  KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia  — When Lady Gaga launches her hotly anticipated “Born This Way Ball” world tour Friday on what is expected to be an elaborate castle-like stage, fans in Asia will be the first to see it. The singer leads off her travels with sold-out shows from South Korea to Singapore in a striking upgrade of her Asia itinerary over a previous tour that included only Japan. Western pop stars are increasingly criss-crossing the upwardly mobile region in search of new markets while financial malaise continues to afflict parts of the West — and Asian fans are ecstatic. “We’re getting so many concerts nowadays, it’s hard to decide which ones to go for!” said Mindy Chew, an information technology consultant in Malaysia who snapped up $120 seats to watch Lady Gaga’s show in neighboring Singapore within 30 minutes after tickets went on sale. “Some of these shows are like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m expecting lots of drama at Lady Gaga’s show, lots of costume changes,” said Chew, who has caught performances by Gwen Stefani and Michael Buble in recent years in Malaysia’s biggest city, Kuala Lumpur. The long list of acts who’ve penned Asia into their tour plans this year include chart-toppers like Katy Perry, LMFAO, Maroon 5, Nicki Minaj, Jason Mraz, Avril Lavigne and Foster The People. Next to Lady Gaga, rock band Radiohead has amassed the most buzz for its planned shows in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea this July. But fans also are looking forward to artists as varied as Elton John, Morrissey, Christina Perri, Lifehouse, Death Cab for Cutie, Avenged Sevenfold, Backstreet Boys, The Flaming Lips and Manic Street Preachers. For unbeatable star power, this August’s two-day Summer Sonic Festival in Japan alone is supposed to feature Rihanna, Green Day, Ke$ha, Adam Lambert, Pitbull, Calvin Harris and Gym Class Heroes. Japan has Continue Reading

‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ ep. 18 recap: Teresa goes to meat market in heels, Melissa performs

The Teresa Show is still going strong down in the Dominican Republic, and despite missing one of her suitcases, Teresa has managed to keep up with her jam-packed schedule of wardrobe changes. I think Caroline has the right idea - strong medicine and bed rest is the only way out of this high-pitched, gold lame nightmare. So here's where we left off - Teresa is deeply offended because she thinks Kathy said she was a bad mother (which clearly she didn't) - and has stormed off with bulldog Joe Giudice in tow to pout in the public restrooms. "Some people just need to have drama in their lives," Joe says, trying to comfort his wife. "She'll never stop .... So you just piss on it and move on." Congrats, Joe! You just won the award for the classiest and most self-aware statement of the season. At some point, the whole group puts on fake happy faces and goes to the bar to do what they do best: drink and act half their age. Joe Giudicea and Joe Gorga have a bonding moment when Giudice asks Gorga what the capital of Thailand is - a question Gorga couldn't answer if his little Tarzan's life depended on it. Of course, the answer in Bangkok, so Giudice punches Gorga in the Tarzan. (Get it?) Yes, ladies and gentlemen, these men are not only the size of children; they have the maturity of them as well. Speaking of being vertically challenged, the Joes decide to find out once and for all which Joe is taller. When it turns out they're actually the same height, they decide to whip 'em out and see who's really taller. Where it counts. Speaking of whipping them out, the Manzo boys get more than they bargained for when they enter the Gorga's villa to find a naked Joe trying to convince Melissa to have shower sex with him. "If you do it right, it takes three seconds!" he reasons with his aggravated wife. "It's like always about Joe, like can I have my five minutes to wash my armpit?" Melissa asks. Clearly not, as Joe later blames his lack of morning nookie for his Continue Reading

Chill out: 206 cool and random things to do when summer heats up in NYC

We asked the Daily News Features team what they wanted to do this summer. Follow their lead and you may run into them all over town — and beyond. JOE NEUMAIER 1. Get to an outdoor movie. From DUMBO to Hoboken to Socrates Park to Riverside Park to the roving Rooftop film series, catch a flick while enjoying the New York night air. More than 200 movies will play out between now and Aug. 20. ( Tackle a big novel, John Sayles' mammoth "A Moment in the Sun." It'll take all summer to finish this work from the genius filmmaker set during the turn of the last century. Due May 17.3. Escape to the zoos. Beyond the Bronx and Central Park … the Queens, Prospect Park and Staten Island zoos make for great escapes, whether or not you are entertaining children or out-of-town guests. (And "Zookeeper," starring Kevin James, opens July 8.)4. Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute free neighborhood concerts. The stately sounds of 57th St. come to Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx throughout the summer. One example: The Latin American despecho songs of Lucia Pulido at the Queens Library central Branch on Merrick Blvd., May 22 at 3 p.m. ( Read a book, then see the movie. For grade-schoolers, compare and contrast "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" (June 19) and "Mr. Popper's Penguins" (June 17). For tweens, there's the young adult book "Headhunters," the basis for Selena Gomez's "Monte Carlo" (July 1). For Mom, there's "The Help" on Aug. 12; for Dad, the nonfiction book about Saddam Hussein's sons, "The Devil's Double" on July 29.6. Go climb something. A small secret, but the largest ropes course in the tri-state area, the Alley Pond Park Adventure Course on Winchester Blvd. in Queens, is great for group parties and for solo climbers. But it helps to be in shape, unlike me.7. Get peaceful. Visit the Chinese Scholar's Garden at Staten Island's Snug Harbor.8. Free art, free river view, free air. Riverside Park's Continue Reading

PAGING DR. DREAMBOAT! Docs are the new sex symbol. Now, who wants a checkup?

A new crew of fetchingly fine M. D. s are diagnosing ­drama on TV, from Patrick Dempsey's Derek Shepherd on "Grey's Anatomy" to current "Bachelor" Travis Stork. When the dating-show protagonist revealed his lucrative job, the contestants trying to win his heart almost went into cardiac arrest. It makes sense: Docs are hot - and ladies can't get enough. Julian McMahon and Dylan Walsh resuscitated the designer-sunglasses look as scheming plastic surgeons on "Nip/Tuck," while Golden Globe winner Hugh Laurie's House has become the thinking-woman's hospital heartthrob. And funny girls (including Mandy Moore) adore Zach Braff's boy-faced John (J. D.) Dorian on "Scrubs. " And who can forget the real physicians who get hearts racing quicker than you can say "STAT"? CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta gave women a whole new notion of the term "embedded" when he burst on the scene during the invasion of Iraq. We'd jump on a treadmill any day for Ian Smith, who counsels the pseudo-stars on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club. " It's our interest in "the essence of life and death," says Joseph Turow, professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, that drives the TV doc bonanza. "Whether we know it or not, over the years, our notion of what goes on behind the scenes in the medical field is shaped by these shows," says Turow. Relationship guru Dr. Gilda Carle says the time is ripe to romanticize doctors. "Doctors embody smarts and compassion in one package," she says. "You get a good provider, too. " NYC's hunkiest healers There's a doctor in the house, all right. And he's a real babe. THE DOC CHRIS WINFREE, 36, neurosurgeon in chronic pain management Make sure he's in your network: New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center Status: Single The drive: "Being a doctor was my childhood dream. I thought it might be cool to get into spinal surgery and Continue Reading