🚨 Tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT on "Axios on HBO": Bill Gates talks climate with Amy Harder and Ina Fried ... Alexi McCammond interviews Franklin Graham about Trump's bond with evangelical Christians ... and former White House official Cliff Sims shares never-before-told-on-camera tales of how Trump operates backstage.
1 big thing: Elon Musk sees 70% chance he'll go to Mars
Elon Musk, age 46, told "Axios on HBO" that he sees a 70% chance that he'll live to ride one of his SpaceX rockets to Mars.
"I know exactly what to do," he said. "I’m talking about moving there."
That prediction is dismissed as fantasy by some experts. But Musk said he can envision a flight as soon as seven years from now, with a ticket price of "around a couple hundred thousand dollars."
What he's saying: Musk shrugged offthe objection that a Mars voyage could be an escape hatch for the rich for problems on this planet.
"Your probability of dying on Mars is much higher than earth."
"Really the ad for going to Mars would be like [Sir Ernest] Shackleton’s [supposed] ad for going to the Antarctic" in the early 20th century, he said.
"It’s gonna be hard. There’s a good chance of death, going in a little can through deep space."
And even if you land successfully, Musk added, "you'll be working nonstop to build the base."
"So, you know, not much time for leisure. And even after doing all this, it's a very harsh environment. So ... there’s a good chance you die there."
"We think you can come back but we're not sure. Now, does that sound like an escape hatch for rich people?"
The bottom line: Musk said he'd unhesitatingly go.
"There’s lots of people who climb mountains. People die on Mount Everest all the time. They like doing it for the challenge."
2. Landing tomorrow will add to humans' long fascination with Mars
On Monday at 3 p.m. ET, a robotic geologist from NASA, InSight, will touch down on the surface of the red planet, AP Aerospace Writer Marcia Dunn reports from Cape Canaveral, Fla.:
"InSight should provide our best look yet at Mars' deep interior, using a mechanical mole to tunnel 16 feet ... deep to measure internal heat, and a seismometer to register quakes [and] meteorite strikes."
"By studying the preserved heart of Mars, InSight can teach us how our solar system's rocky planets formed 4 1/2 billion years ago and why they turned out so different.
Six-month journey: "United Launch Alliance .... the rocket-building joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin ... used an Atlas V rocket to ... send [the spacecraft] on its way to the red planet" from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in May. (CNBC)
"Today's Earthlings are lured to Mars for a variety of reasons," per AP:
"The cherry on top is that Mars may have once been flush with water and could have harbored life."
"In two years, NASA will actually seek evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars — if, indeed, it's there.
It would bepast life: The "Martian surface is too cold and dry, with too much radiation bombardment, for life to currently exist."
"Recorded observations of Mars — about double the size of Earth's moon — date back to ancient Egypt. But it wasn't until the 19th century that Mars mania truly set in."
3. Climate report paints grim picture for Midwest
The U.S. government's Black Friday climate report warns that rising "temperatures in the Midwest are projected to be the largest contributing factor to declines in U.S. agricultural productivity, with extreme heat wilting crops and posing a threat to livestock," the Chicago Tribune's Tony Briscoe writes:
"Midwest farmers will be increasingly challenged by warmer, wetter and more humid conditions from climate change, which also will lead to greater incidence of crop disease and more pests and will diminish the quality of stored grain."
"[Y]ields from major U.S crops are expected to fall, the reports says. To adapt to the rising temperatures, substantial investments will be required, which ... will hurt farmers’ bottom lines."
Why it matters: "During the growing season, temperatures are projected to climb more in the Midwest than in any other region of the U.S."
"Without technological advances in agriculture, the onslaught of high-rainfall events and higher temperatures could reduce the Midwest agricultural economy to levels last seen during the economic downturn for farmers in the 1980s."
4. Trump claims Mueller helps him politically
In a book coming Tuesday by Trump campaign originals Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, "Trump’s Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency" (Center Street), the president says the Mueller investigation has helped him politically, per the WashPost's Phil Rucker:
“I think it makes my base stronger,” Trump told the authors in an interview. “I would have never said this to you. But I think the level of love now is far greater than when we won. I don’t know, what do you think, Mike?”
Vice President Pence, who sat in part of the interview, replied: “As strong or stronger.”
5. Le chaos: Riots on Champs-Élysées
Plumes of smoke rise near the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Élyséesin Paris, decorated with the Christmas lights, during the second weekend of France-wide protests against a rise in the gas tax, and general discontent with fiscal burdens.
"Thousands of police were deployed nationwide to contain the eighth day of deadly demonstrations that started as protests against tax but morphed into a rebuke of President Emmanuel Macron and the perceived elitism of France's ruling class," AP reports.
"It's going to trigger a civil war and me, like most other citizens, we're all ready," said Benjamin Vrignaud, a 21-year-old protester from Chartres.
"Welling up rapidly from rural and forgotten France, this broad-based, citizen-driven movement is among the most serious challenges yet to President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business government."
⚡ "BRUSSELS (Reuters) — European Union leaders formally agreed a Brexit deal [today] and urged Britons to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s package in the face of furious opposition in the British parliament."
Trump tweets this morning: "The large and violent French protests don’t take into account how badly the United States has been treated on Trade by the European Union or on fair and reasonable payments for our GREAT military protection. Both of these topics must be remedied soon."
6. Formidable new barrier for migrants attempting to reach U.S.
President Trump wants asylum seekers to wait in Mexico as cases are processed, under a “Remain in Mexico” plan that's a sharp break with current policy.
The Post's lead print storysays he has a deal: "The Trump administration has won the support of Mexico’s incoming government for a plan to remake U.S. border policy by requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims move through U.S. courts, according to Mexican officials and senior members of President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s transition team."
But Mexican officialsdispute the deal is final, per the N.Y. Times: "While Mexican officials said no decision has been made, leaders of the incoming government are under immense pressure to deal with thousands of migrants lined up along the border between the two countries."
Trump tweetsthat "catch and release" is now "Catch and Detain."
"Amazon expects — or plans to create — disruption."
"Streaming could become the dominant media business in the next few years, which could mean that streaming companies become the leading sports broadcasters if they line up the right deals."
"Amazon could aim to win exclusive rights for Monday and Sunday N.F.L. games when they come up for renewal around 2021."
🧠 Thought bubble from Axios' Sara Fischer: Amazon's strategy — including paying $50 million for exclusive digital rights to the NFL's "Thursday Night Football" — is notably different than its biggest streaming rival, Netflix, which has shied from investing in live sports rights.
8. New disaster in California: No housing
Some wildfire victims are leaving the state ... "[T]owns are struggling to absorb the roughly 50,000 people displaced by the Camp fire," the L.A. Times' Anna Phillips reports:
"[T]he evacuees’ arrival has worsened the state’s housing crisis and raised the possibility that they could be evicted from the region again, not by fire but by a scarcity of suitable dwellings."
"Hotels and motels from Sacramento to Redding are full. The vacancy rate in the rental market, which hovered around 3% before the fire, has fallen to near zero."
"Unable to find single-family homes in the area, evacuees have resorted to renting individual bedrooms, buying recreational vehicles and purchasing travel trailers."
"Others are simply leaving California for other western states with a lower cost of living."
9. Today's best read: Behind the scenes with Guy Raz
The N.Y. Times' Nellie Bowles puts a "Wow!" counter on NPR's Guy Raz, host of the How I Built This podcast about capitalist origin stories: Betterment CEO Jon Stein: 12 "Wow!"s ... Cisco co-founder Sandy Lerner: 15 "Wow!"s ... Bobby Trussell, who created the Tempur-Pedic mattress empire: 18 "Wow!"s.
"There’s a moment like this in every episode of How I Built This. The guest has let his or her guard down and revealed something intimate, or financial, or financially intimate, and Mr. Raz keeps the disclosures rolling by reacting with total marvelment."
"When he says 'billions,' he pops the 'B.'"
"'Oh my god, it’s Nellie Bowles!' is how he says hello to me, and to almost anyone whose name he knows."
"By creating a safe space for entrepreneurs to share their stories of ascent, Mr. Raz has become one of the most popular podcasters in history."
"Raz, 44, has a claim to be king. According to NPR, where he works on contract, he is the only person to ever have three shows simultaneously in Apple’s top 20 podcasts. In addition to How I Built This, Mr. Raz hosts the TED Radio Hour and the children’s series Wow in the World."
"Another show, The Rewind With Guy Raz, just started on Spotify, and spring 2019 will bring Wisdom From the Top, a podcast about leadership."
A crazy night lasts until morning in College Station: Unranked Texas A&M beat No. 8 LSU, 74–72, in seven overtimes in the highest-scoring game in Football Championship Subdivision (college football's top level) history.
"The 146 combined points are the most in an FBS game in NCAA history and the second-most in college football history behind the 161 points Abilene Christian and West Texas A&M scored in Abilene Christian's 93-68 win in 2008." (AP)
"The previous record-holder for [FBS] scoring ... was a 2016 game in which Pitt beat Syracuse, 76-61.
"Sunday morning's finish ... tied a record for the longest game. ... Since the NCAA adopted an overtime rule in 1996, four other FBS games have reached seven overtimes." (SI)