If there was a winner, it was Bernie Sanders. The self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist has done well online in every debate, with digital traffic, polls and engagement always high. But this time most pundits joined the party too, saying that Sanders won, if slightly. Momentum is clearly on the Vermont senator’s side, but while Sanders could win Iowa and New Hampshire, he must perfect his pitch to Black voters — a demographic that prefers Clinton — or South Carolina, another early and much more diverse primary, could stop him in his tracks
The Presidential Daily Brief
Out with the old, in with the new. It’s been a whirlwind weekend, with Iran’s nuclear compliance leading to a lifting of financial sanctions, a prisoner swap and hints of détente followed by … new sanctions. Yesterday Obama announced measures against 11 entities alleged to have aided Iran’s ballistic missile program. Tehran says the sanctions have “no legal or moral legitimacy,” but it’s focusing on accessing nearly $100 billion in newly unlocked assets while planning to boost its export of crude, which is already driving oil prices even lower.
The search has begun. U.S. Embassy staff, responding to local media reports that three American citizens had been kidnapped by militias while en route to Baghdad International Airport, confirm that “several” Americans have gone missing. No one’s been named, owing to “privacy considerations,” and Iraqi authorities have set up checkpoints in the Dora neighborhood southeast of Baghdad and deployed army helicopters to the area. U.S. officials, meanwhile, say they are fully cooperating with the Iraqis, adding, “The safety and security of Americans abroad is our highest priority.”
It’s been a hard winter. The second deadly avalanche in the French Alps in less than a week swept away 13 members of the 2nd Foreign Engineer Regiment today, killing five. Last week, three people died in another snowslide — so far in 2016, including today, avalanches in the Alps have claimed twelve lives — and experts are blaming the trend on unusual snow conditions that could be dangerous for would-be mountaineers throughout the winter.
This isn’t fair. The world’s 62 richest people — enough to fill one luxury bus — have more cash than the poorest 3.6 billion, and the wealthiest 1 percent own more than everyone else combined. These figures, according to charity Oxfam, signal “runaway inequality” that’s seen the average annual income of the poorest 10 percent rise by less than $3 over the last quarter century. As global leaders prepare for this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam recommends they take action to eliminate extreme poverty.
Brain-dead man dies in France following suspended drug trial. (AFP)
Four-nation Afghan peace talks get underway. (DW)
SpaceX fails to land spent rocket on floating platform. (WSJ) sub
Pregnant Israeli woman stabbed, wounded in attack. (Jerusalem Post)
Utah policeman, suspect die in shootout. (USA Today)
This Eagle has landed. The Detroit-born guitarist died Monday of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. Surviving band members confirmed the news, saluting a brother who helped write and sing classic rock staples like “Take It Easy,” “Hotel California” and “Tequila Sunrise,” winning six Grammys. Frey also had solo success in the ’80s with hits like “The Heat Is On” and “You Belong to the City.” Fans are taking to social media to pay tribute to a musician whose sound helped define their youth.
What a cute Bei Bei! This 5-month-old bear, whose name means “treasure,” has made his public debut. Born in August to the zoo’s Mei Xiang — and on display exclusively to zoo members since Jan. 8 — he was introduced to groups of 50 on Sunday, each of whom got just 10 minutes in front of his enclosure. Those outside D.C. can watch him on panda cam … and dread the unbearable day four years from now when China will reclaim him for their panda breeding program.
Coalition-making is the name of the game. The Cornhusker State, one of the country’s most conservative, has managed what many had considered impossible: Genuine cooperation between parties to pass things they agree on, like abolition of the death penalty. Many credit the state’s open primary system, where the top two candidates from any party advance to a runoff race, meaning the primaries don’t see politicians pander only to their registered voters. The system has now been adopted in Washington and California, and some hope it’ll catch on nationwide.
Get to the chopper! The ride-sharing leader is partnering with aerospace giant Airbus to offer on-demand helicopter rides at this month’s Sundance Film Festival in Utah, helping filmgoers traverse the frozen terrain. Uber’s dabbled with helicopter lifts before, and the price tags were several hundred dollars at the minimum. If this flies, an aerial option may be added to the company’s growing list of services like boat rides and food delivery. But there’s already competition from startup Blade, which has funding from Google CEO Eric Schmidt to help it take off.
Will she finally change out of those jeans? The Netflix series about a badass alcoholic detective who just happens to have superpowers will be back, the network has announced. The show followed Daredevil as one of five planned series about Marvel characters protecting New York. Though there’s no word yet on a premiere date for the 13-episode return, comic fans can revel in Daredevil’s second season, due out March 18, and start speculating over Marvel’s as-yet-unreleased shows, including Luke Cage and a possible Punisher spin-off.
Was it all a racket? An investigation claims that tennis authorities have been aware of alleged match-fixing since 2008, but allowed cheating players to carry on without sanction. The schemes, said to have been orchestrated by Russian and Italian gambling syndicates, include major tournaments like Wimbledon and involve 16 players who have been ranked in the sport’s top 50. The Association of Tennis Players flatly denied the charges — which notably landed just before today’s Australian Open launch — but said it will continue to investigate any new evidence.