Will this help him or hurt him? The Republican front-runner had teased a big announcement for an event in Iowa today, and he delivered: The 2008 vice-presidential nominee and former Alaska governor read a prepared statement voicing her support for Trump’s campaign. The Donald is recovering from a gaffe of Biblical proportions — he referred to ”Two Corinthians 3:17” instead of “Second Corinthians” — and Palin’s support could bolster him with Iowa’s social conservatives and successfully beat back rival Ted Cruz in the state’s caucuses, which are less than two weeks away.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Beijing’s economy grew by just 6.9 percent in 2015 — the slowest year since 1990 — falling shy of its 7 percent target. Steel and power contracted for the first time in 25 years, and coal production fell for a second consecutive year. Some question the data’s legitimacy, worrying that things are actually worse. As OZY’s Simon Constable reports, China is already suffering massive “capital flight,” with many investors parking their money overseas — a trend that will only worsen if China’s economy is suffering more than they admit.
They found it off-color. The Chi-Raq director and the Gotham star are standing up against the Academy’s lack of diversity. “Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all,” Lee posted on Instagram. “We can’t act?!” In a Facebook video Pinkett Smith declared that “begging for acknowledgment, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power.” Both stars are refusing to attend February’s ceremony, and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has responded, vowing to “alter the make-up” of jurors, who are currently 94 percent white.
They’re not throwing the case out. President Obama’s authority to allow millions of undocumented migrants to stay in the U.S. without fear of being deported has been challenged by 26 states since he announced it in 2014. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling against it in November — but the Supreme Court’s consideration, expected for April, will ensure that immigration is a key issue throughout the upcoming presidential primaries. If Obama’s actions are vindicated by the court when their verdicts are released in June, it would take a Republican victory in November to shut the program down.
They still haven’t sent the invitations. United Nations peace talks between Bashar Assad’s allies, Syrian opposition groups and other world powers are scheduled for Monday in Geneva. But Saudi Arabia wants to represent those opposing Assad, while Russia demands a broader opposition bloc, which is ruffling feathers and prompting talks of postponement. As former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin writes for OZY, this conflict impacts everything from ISIS and Europe’s refugee crisis to oil market volatility. Syria “must come first,” he says, which means everyone needs to get to the table.
U.N. documents ‘staggering’ violence in Iraq with 3.2 million displaced. (BBC)
Crowd demands Gov. Rick Snyder’s arrest in Mich. over water crisis. (USA Today)
Violent protests risk derailment of Haiti’s presidential vote. (Al Jazeera)
A third of Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp is being demolished. (DW)
‘American Pie’ singer Don McLean arrested on domestic violence charge. (People)
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.
This is not your brain on drugs. A previous study famously linked marijuana use among adolescents to cognitive damage, but new research has returned vastly different results. Psychologists assessed sets of twins over a decade and found that while IQs declined in those who toked up, they decreased at the same rate in the smokers’ abstaining twins. Researchers believe the reasons for both marijuana use and cognitive decline might be tied to family issues and hope their work could shed light on how struggling teens use the drug as a coping mechanism.
This view is growing on them. The crew of the International Space Station nearly lost their first crop of zinnias — the first flowers grown in space — to mold. But American Scott Kelly, annoyed that the rigorous procedures for space gardening didn’t seem to be working, suggested the astronauts be allowed to use their judgment to care for the flowers. It worked: Petals are in bloom, and the crew is now looking forward to growing dwarf tomatoes and Chinese cabbage, key research for future space-grown crops.
Obscenity has a whole new scene. Locally grown porn industries in places like Kenya and Nigeria are flourishing, offering citizens a shot at seeing their own nationals on screen, rather than the stereotypical Western cheerleaders and pizza delivery boys. India and China have both responded to the rise in homegrown erotica by enacting anti-porn regulations, worried about the adult industry by-products of obscenity and exploitation. But now they’ll have to grapple with the shifting and subtle definitions of obscenity — and balance that against free speech and sex ed.
This ball is still very much in play. After reports claimed scores of pro tennis matches were fixed in recent years without repercussions, the world’s No. 1 player acknowledged that he was offered a payout early in his career before a match in Russia. The 28-year-old immediately declined the offer, and he’s dismissing allegations of widespread fixing as “speculation.” Roger Federer, meanwhile, wants to “hear names” of alleged cheaters, and Andy Murray says the sport should do more to warn younger players how to handle illegal offers.