The gloves came off. Despite insisting they want to focus on the issues and not attacks, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders unleashed on each other in their first debate since the field narrowed to just two candidates. The Vermont senator continued his critique of Clinton’s perceived ties to Wall Street while the former Secretary of State accused her rival of engaging in an “artful smear.” With the New Hampshire primary just days away, the two candidates held little back as they push to break their delegate deadlock coming out of Iowa.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re taking off … for Libya. Libyan intelligence and counterterrorism experts say militant commanders are moving from Iraq and Syria into Moammar Gadhafi’s homeland. OZY reports that as many as 10,000 ISIS fighters are in Libya and speculates whether they’ll abandon their so-called caliphate under the strain of airstrikes. Most experts believe the jihadis will try to hold on in the Middle East while expanding efforts in North Africa, but note that Libya is definitely “Plan B.” President Obama’s advisors, meanwhile, are pushing for expanded U.S. military action in response.
Will he walk out? The Wikileaks founder, who’s been holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, had said he’d accept his arrest if a U.N. panel voted against him. The panel, which has been considering whether Assange is being unlawfully detained because he faces arrest if he leaves, reportedly plans to rule in his favor tomorrow. But this has no bearing on the arrest warrant, or on Britain’s plan to extradite Assange should he decide to get some fresh air.
We’re head over heels … in debt. The world’s floating in a pool of loans that threatens to hurt the global economy. While bad debts have long affected growth, their ill effects are on the rise. Beijing is thought to be floating a credit line exceeding a whopping $5 trillion, and aggressive stimulus policies have also left the U.S., Europe and Brazil facing tough debts. Experts say it’s time for banks to clean up — recognize losses, withstand foreclosures and struggle with unpopular taxpayer bailouts — or the world’s economy might just sink.
Shell shares jump as sliding oil prices push profits down almost 60 percent. (WSJ) sub
Rand Paul, Rick Santorum drop out of 2016 Republican bid. (NYT)
German police raids net suspected ISIS arrests in Berlin. (DW)
Actor Matt LeBlanc to co-host BBC’s ‘Top Gear.’ (BBC)
Stocks rally as weaker dollar helps commodities. (FT) sub
International donors gather to raise billions for Syria. (BBC)
Florida declares emergency in four counties over Zika. (ABC)
Shkreli refuses to testify before Congress. (CNBC)
Call it red tape. The space agency’s planning a manned mission to the fourth planet, but the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology needs more specifics. While NASA’s working on a rocket and a crew capsule, a lot more hardware will be needed before the potential 2021 launch, but expert witnesses argue that nothing more has been defined or planned. Now NASA must convince Congress with a clear plan to get the needed funds — up to an estimated half a trillion dollars — or their Martian ambitions may never take off.
It’s enough to drive someone to drink. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that sexually active women of childbearing age who aren’t sterile or using contraception should abstain from booze. The idea is to avoid consuming alcohol while unknowingly pregnant, which can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Critics say women shouldn’t be assumed to be irresponsible and shouldn’t have to alter their lives over hypothetical babies. But increased awareness could lead to further studies of the risks that moderate alcohol consumption poses to unborn babies.
Should they stay or should they go? The city recently relocated some of its estimated 7,000 homeless residents to make way for “Super Bowl City.” OZY talked with Sam Dodge, San Francisco’s newly appointed “homeless czar,” about preparations for the Big Game. He explained how his department looked for the best options for homeless people in specific areas where conflict was expected. But he also noted that while this Sunday’s game in nearby Santa Clara will come and go, he will continue striving to “serve best those least among us.”
It’s not a rerun. A Pennsylvania judge dismissed an attempt to throw out criminal charges against the entertainer stemming from an alleged 2004 assault. Cosby’s lawyers had been relying on a verbal agreement by former District Attorney Bruce Castor to not prosecute the 78-year-old in exchange for his testimony in a civil case. But Judge Steven O’Neill dismissed the agreement, saying it had “no basis.” If convicted, the embroiled star — accused by more than 50 women of sexual assault — could face 10 years behind bars.
He’s on thin ice. Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman faces a lengthy suspension after knocking down linesman Don Henderson with a cross-check normally reserved for opposing players. The NHL Players Association has filed an appeal on behalf of the 11-year veteran, noting his past 800 games have been “without incident.” But the league may be reluctant to go against its own rules, even if it’s Wideman’s first big offense, and the 32-year-old stands to lose more than $550,000 in forfeited salary if the ruling stands.