It wasn’t all barbs. The three Democratic presidential candidates appeared at a town hall forum yesterday, just one week before the Iowa caucuses. Bernie Sanders talked of “political revolution” while backing away from earlier criticism of Planned Parenthood after the group endorsed Hillary Clinton. Martin O’Malley continued to argue for relevancy. Clinton, meanwhile, praised Sanders for bringing “poetry” to the campaign and reiterated that she “did nothing wrong” in the Benghazi scandal. She may have some explaining to do at home, though, after naming Abraham Lincoln her favorite former president.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Now they’re the ones in focus. The anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos alleging that the reproductive health organization sold fetal body parts for profit are now the ones facing charges. A Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of misconduct — the culmination of a scandal that prompted Republican investigations. But David Daleiden, CEO of the Center for Medical Progress, and associate Sandra Merritt are charged with tampering with government records, which could get them 20 years in prison. Daleiden also faces a misdemeanor count for attempting to purchase human organs.
“The epic snowfall has been followed by an epochal wait for a snowplow,” says OZY’s Steve Butler, based in Washington, D.C, after the weekend’s weather left much of America’s Eastern seaboard buried under three feet of snow. The storm halted 12,000 flights, local rail services and public transportation, and left at least 30 dead, ranging from heart attacks to car accidents to carbon monoxide poisoning. In the nation’s capital, schools and government buildings remain shut today, with limited Metro service, and East Coast residents are being warned the cleanup could take days.
The clips purportedly reveal the terrorists carrying out executions in Iraq and Syria, which would mean they weren’t a European cell but instead trained by ISIS to launch attacks overseas. Meanwhile, the world awaits this week’s planned U.N.-sponsored Syrian peace talks, which have hit snags over who gets to represent the opposition: Moscow-aligned groups or those supported by Washington and Riyadh. “The obvious compromise,” says former CIA deputy director and OZY contributor John McLaughlin, “is for both to get seats.” He expects a deal to be struck along those lines.
This might make him mad. Acting Treasury secretary for terrorism and financial crimes Adam Szubin says Russia’s president has been stockpiling wealth and misusing his power for his own financial gain. The U.S. already sanctions several of Putin’s aides, in what many see as retaliation for Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. Putin’s camp dismisses the corruption allegations as “pure fiction.” But following a U.K. report that Putin was “probably” behind the death of a former KGB agent in London, some hope the West will take the opportunity to go on the offensive with the Russian leader.
He may want in. The former New York mayor is seeking advice on a potential third-party run for the White House. The Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent is a pro-business billionaire who believes in climate change and gun control. OZY’s Nick Fouriezos, reporting from Iowa, says the candidates don’t seem worried about a possible Bloomberg bid, which pundits predict would only happen in the event of Bernie Sanders facing off against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. “I would love to have Michael Bloomberg run. I would love that competition,” Trump says.
He’s taking a victory lap. Just a week after economic sanctions were lifted, President Hassan Rouhani is heading to Rome today for the first leg of his trip to the Continent. He’s planning to sign up to $18 billion in agreements with Italian firms, including a pipeline company, a metals supplier and a water infrastructure business. Rouhani will then head to France, where he’s looking to buy 114 Airbus jets in what could be Tehran’s biggest deal since a nuclear agreement led to warmer relations with the West.
WHO warns that Zika virus is likely to spread across Americas. (BBC)
Protesters take to streets to mark anniversary of Egypt’s revolution. (Al Jazeera)
Adidas terminates sponsorship deal with IAAF following doping scandal. (AFP)
European leaders weigh importance of border controls. (DW)
Cold snap in Taiwan kills dozens. (AP)
U.K. ‘vulnerable’ to next Ebola outbreak. (BBC)
Supreme Court rules juvenile murderers may be eligible for new sentencing hearings. (Bloomberg)
Heads may roll. Eight workers from Cairo’s Egyptian Museum face charges of “gross negligence” after accidentally knocking over Tutankhamun’s 3,300-year-old golden burial mask in 2014, severing its blue and gold braided beard. But the real “Tut’s disgrace” controversy was that the employees — including conservation experts — re-glued the broken beard with epoxy, causing even more damage. An extensive repair operation has since restored the beard, and King Tut is back on display. But those involved in the botched repair face fines and possible jail time.
They’re on a slippery slope. Western Europe’s biggest petroleum producer has suffered crude oil’s price free fall, exacerbated again today with a price drop to just above $30 a barrel. It’s already cost nearly 30,000 Norwegian jobs, many of which may not return. Though the Nordic kingdom’s been pulling out all the stops to stabilize its economy, record fiscal stimulus measures — combined with a weakened currency — aren’t doing enough. Today the country’s leaders and central bank governor will discuss further stimulus options in a bid to steer the economy away from a “hard landing.”
Research shows most folks suffer a 20-year dip in personal happiness after reaching adulthood, but they tend to regain their mojo in middle age. In the U.K. and Australia, for example, people perk up around age 44. But in poor countries, the happiness U-curve is steeper. In Russia, people don’t seem to cheer up until an average of 77 — unfortunately life expectancy is only 71. But knowing that people universally follow a similar pattern gives researchers a place to start finding ways to boost human happiness.
The rest is yet to come. When the 69-year-old legend died on Jan. 10, fans were thankful for Blackstar, released just days earlier, and took the album as a farewell from their lost idol. But his estate is reportedly in possession of unreleased material — it’s unclear whether they’re new songs or alternative versions of older ones — that Bowie had planned to release before he died. New compilations will be out next year, along with an expected cast album for the Bowie-composed off-Broadway musical Lazarus.
They’re going the distance. After most critics had written off Peyton Manning and his teammates, the Broncos held off the reigning New England Patriots in a classic grinder, 20-18. Meanwhile, Cam Newton’s Carolina squad pummeled the Arizona Cardinals, 49-15. The Panthers are expected to be favorites heading into football’s biggest game in Santa Clara, California, in two weeks. But after playing one of his best games all season, Denver fans hope Manning has a final great performance left in him before likely hanging up his cleats for good.