Braving rain and cold, President Barack Obama and his family ventured across the street from the White House on Friday to preside over the lighting of the U.S. national Christmas tree. Obama, his wife, daughters, and mother-in-law took part in the annual tradition, which featured music by singers Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, and the group Train. "You are lucky I'm not singing," Obama joked to the rain-soaked crowd. The president used the occasion to pay tribute again to Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who died on Thursday.
After a three-day rescue effort, the fate of 40 whales hung in the balance, with officials saying they had lost track of two dozen of them in southern Florida. "Anything could happen, whales could change direction, flight going up in the morning to locate whales again," an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration account tweeted. With 11 whales already dead, a second NOAA tweet said biologists were concerned to hear of behavior including dehydration and malnutrition among whales being monitored. NOAA marine mammal scientist Blair Mase suggested it was "encouraging" that 24 of the mammals had not been located.