Deadly Taiwan Earthquake Knocks Down High-Rise
The Presidential Daily Brief
After a 6.4-magnitude temblor killed at least 11 in the city of Tainan, some 200 residents were pulled out alive from rubble, including from a 17-story apartment building that toppled sideways. One of those in the building — packed with relatives ahead of Monday’s Chinese New Year — was a teenager on the 12th floor who called an emergency line repeatedly until she and her sister were rescued. Nearly 500 injuries were reported in the city of 1.8 million, and some are already urging authorities to probe the doomed high-rise’s construction.
They’re feeling the big chill. Reporting from a snowy Granite State, OZY’s Nick Fouriezos says it’s reckoning time for America’s presidential crop. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders must win, preferably big, to convince voters that their movements are more than mere moments. Three GOP governors hope for a top-tier finish to help them survive the storm, but upstarts like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will keep trying to plow through the competition. Hillary Clinton, polling 20 points behind Vermont Senator Sanders, is betting next week’s southern primaries will warm supporters’ hearts.
Five years of civil war not enough for you, Assad? Moscow and Damascus seem hell-bent on finding a military solution, rather than a political one, to a conflict that has claimed an estimated 300,000 lives and left many starving. Peace negotiations got underway in Geneva this week — the cue for the Kremlin and Syria to launch a major assault in Aleppo and Homs. Talks, in turn, were suspended, and U.S. officials admonished Russia for the violence. Meanwhile, humanitarian cries for aid have raised billions for Syrian refugees, but hopes for peace are fading.
Will they go nuclear? To help understand how the world might end — or be saved — the BBC assembled a team of British former military officers and diplomats in a “war room” with a fictional doomsday scenario. Mirroring the unrest in Ukraine, an uprising of Russian separatists in NATO-aligned Latvia triggers an escalation that gets London vaporized. Then it’s up to the decision-makers to retaliate by launching submarine-based ICBMs. With the planet in peril, each player must decide whether to give in or unleash a barrage of nuclear missiles.
Is it slip slidin’ away? Britain’s BP suffered a $6.5 billion loss last year, Chevron dipped in the fourth quarter, and Shell’s profits are down. America’s industry leader, Exxon Mobil, raked in $16.2 billion, but that’s only half of what it earned in 2014. Economists point their fingers at a strong U.S. dollar, low commodity prices and emerging market sluggishness. Citigroup, meanwhile, optimistically forecasts $50 barrels by year’s end. But others say oil producers must embrace digital supply systems to cut costs and boost supply efficiency now, rather than later.
North Korea May Launch ‘Satellite’ Tomorrow, Twitter Shuts 125,000 Accounts Deemed Terror Supporting
North Korea said to plan ‘satellite’ launch as early as Sunday. (BBC)
Twitter suspends 125,000 ‘terrorism-supporting’ accounts. (NYT)
Rescuers search for missing after small planes collide off L.A. shore. (LA Times)
Pentagon releases 198 photos showing detainee injuries. (CNN)
Edgar Mitchell, sixth man on the moon, dies at age 85. (USA Today)
What doesn’t kill them … Some parents are heeding psychologists’ advice and letting kids play in ways that make others cringe — in the hopes of stimulating creativity and giving them a mental and academic edge. Children, especially in upper-socioeconomic rungs, have long been limited to rubberized play to keep them safe. But that doesn’t provide the same learning experience as a rope swing over a pond or a rickety wooden fort. Trouble is, kids can and do get hurt, making it tough to convince western safety regulators to cry anything other than “foul play.”
Move over, whiskey snobs. Masters of the Japanese rice wine can alter its delicate taste simply by changing the shape of the cup. Some sake breweries ask that people not even sip coffee before visiting — such is the need to control the fermentation and sensory environment. Bartender Yusuke Shimoki pays minute attention to every detail at his bar in the tiny town of Yamanaka Onsen, where he teaches youthful Japanese and anyone else who’ll listen, and drink, in a bid to resurrect this ancient spirit from decades of declining popularity.
It’s one for the ages. Scientists at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic can now flush “retired” cells — those that have stopped dividing — from the bodies of mice. These senescent cells promote aging, and, once cleared, the test rodents live 25 percent longer. What’s more: The treatment actually reversed the effects of aging in middle-aged mice, leading to what one biotech venture capitalist called a “holy crap” moment. Trials in people may not be far off, but there are risks, and human life-spans mean we may grow old awaiting the results.
They’re writing the next chapter. Amazon has announced plans to open a chain of physical bookstores, conjuring the ghosts of shuttered Borders outlets. But it’s not so crazy, experts say, because online retailing is struggling with paper-thin profit margins and high shipping costs. Meanwhile, the number of brick-and-mortar booksellers has grown by 25 percent in the past six years. The e-commerce giant must now shop for prime locations for its modest move off-line … and a chance to finally meet customers face to face.
You can’t knock them off their game. NFL loyalty remains strong even as fans lose faith in religion, government and family. Under an ever-darkening cloud of traumatic brain injuries, declining youth participation and lawsuits, the league continues to enjoy record ratings for events like this weekend’s Super Bowl, while raking in a whopping $12.4 billion last year, nearly double that of a decade ago. Owners call the shots, but the buck stops with commissioner Roger Goodell, backed by high-powered Washington, D.C.-politicos and lobbyists. Despite being a magnet for criticism, Goodell is earning his ring.