There can be only one. The two remaining Democratic candidates sought to claim the party mantle at a town hall in New Hampshire last night. Sanders derided Clinton for accepting speaking fees from Wall Street, voting for the Iraq War, and for not being what he sees as a true progressive. Clinton’s performance was uneven, but she earned laughs when she quipped, of the pricey payments from Goldman Sachs, “That’s what they offered.” They’ll face off again in Thursday’s debate ahead of the Granite State’s primary on Tuesday.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re going to take a break. Assad’s regime, backed by Russian airstrikes, has started pounding the northern Syrian city like never before, just two days after peace talks got underway in Geneva. Negotiators are temporarily halting talks in response to the offensive, which has Syrian government troops, backed by Russia, advancing on the opposition despite U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry’s warning yesterday that “we expect a ceasefire.” His Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said today that Moscow won’t not stop until they’ve defeated terrorist groups like ISIS and Nusra Front.
They’re heading home.. The junior Kentucky senator and former Pennsylvania senator are ending their 2016 campaigns for the White House after finishing near the bottom of the Iowa caucuses and with little traction heading into New Hampshire. OZY’s Nick Fouriezos says he expects Paul, the self-styled champion of liberty and small government, to refocus his energies on getting re-elected to the U.S. Senate. Fouriezos also predicts the remaining GOP candidates will stay put until after New Hampshire, when the also-rans will likely begin to “drop like flies.”
Careful what you wish for. Rubio outperformed expectations in Iowa and now has a bullseye on his back: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich will be gunning for him on the stump. OZY’s Nick Fouriezos, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, says they’re already criticizing the Florida senator for not spending enough time wooing the state’s famously fickle voters. But even as Rubio and his former mentor Bush jostle for establishment voters, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz could well beat them both in the Feb. 9 primary.
They say it’s a matter of national security. Australia’s conservative government has enforced an unusually strict policy on refugees — even legitimate asylum seekers aren’t allowed in, and are instead offloaded to detention centers on nearby islands. Human rights lawyers had hoped to bring hundreds of detainees to the mainland, including many who say they’ve been abused in what the Australian senate deemed “unsafe” facilities on Nauru — but the High Court says it’s perfectly legal to detain refugees offshore, though it noted that they can’t be held indefinitely.
It’s here. The first case of the Zika virus being transmitted within the U.S. has been confirmed. The Dallas County Department of Health says the disease was sexually transmitted, rather than borne by mosquitoes, though CDC Director Tom Frieden says that’s not surprising: The patient, who remains unidentified, had sex with someone who’d recently visited Venezuela. The CDC recommends avoiding unprotected sexual contact with anyone who’s traveled to outbreak areas like Mexico or the Caribbean, while health officials try to get a handle on what’s been declared a global emergency.
If it goes through, it’ll be the largest-ever acquisition of a foreign entity by a Chinese company. The massive deal answers the lingering question of how Swiss pesticide company Syngenta would beef up following its 17 percent income tumble in 2015 and the industry-shaking Dow Chemical-Dupont merger two months ago. Though ChemChina is owned by the Chinese government, Syngenta is expected to stay based in Europe — though the deal will have to clear regulatory hurdles, both in the U.S. and abroad, before it’s allowed to go forward.
Donald Trump accuses Ted Cruz of fraud in Iowa, wants new vote. (CBS)
South Africa’s Jacob Zuma to repay some government funds spent on private residence. (BBC)
North Korea announces planned satellite launch. (Reuters)
Summer Redstone Resigns as top CBS executive (Hollywood Reporter)
Ten-year-old “war hero” child soldier killed in Afghanistan. (NYT)
Michigan plans to give $30 million to help Flint residents pay water bills. (AP)
That would be a turn up for the books. The retail giant that’s largely blamed for putting brick-and-mortar stores out of business may be getting in on the physical bookstore game, according to comments from a mall CEO. General Growth Properties boss Sandeep Mathrani estimated that Amazon was planning 300 to 400 U.S. bookstores, a big change from the single Seattle storefront they currently operate. Mathrani didn’t say when it would happen, and Amazon, which makes 7 percent of its revenue from books, isn’t commenting on “rumors and speculation.”
Can’t stop hitting the snooze button? Blame biology. Researchers at the genetics company 23andMe say they’ve identified 15 parts of the human genome that influence whether someone is predisposed to be a morning person or a night owl. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, analyzed sleep patterns of 90,000 individuals and follows similar studies conducted on fruit flies and mice. Though the researchers admit their analysis is far from complete, they say the results will help guide further studies into the understanding of our circadian rhythms.
Managing college endowments doesn’t have to be dull. Just ask Jagdeep Singh Bachher, the chief investment officer for the University of California system. Throughout the recession and recovery, he and his colleagues played it safe. But now some institutional investors — known for safe bets and a lumbering pace — are diving headlong into the startup economy. The school’s fund is bypassing traditional middlemen, venture capitalists, and investing hundreds of millions in companies on its own. The upside is they own the intellectual property, but some say they’re “really asking for trouble.”
Pray tell, who speaks the truth? Pope Francis is reportedly set to become the first pontiff to star in a feature film. Ambi Pictures says he’ll play himself in the upcoming flick Beyond the Sun, a family adventure based on the gospels, and that all profits will go to children’s charities in his native Argentina. But Vatican communications chief Monsignor Dario Vigano says that while he can’t rule out the possibility that filmmakers found clips of Francis to use, he disputed their claims, noting, “The pope is not an actor.”
The madness ends in March. Authorities are once again investigating the troubled quarterback over an alleged assault, leaving Cleveland in a tricky position. It’s against NFL rules to drop Manziel before March 9 — releasing him earlier would incur a $4.6 million penalty on top of the millions guaranteed in his contract. Though they haven’t confirmed the decision, the Browns issued a statement saying his status would be addressed “when permitted.” Now both parties have to wait five awkward weeks to finalize what appears to already be set in stone.