Tensions just blew sky high. The Hermit Kingdom has drawn global criticism following yesterday’s launch, which Pyongyang claims placed a satellite in orbit but critics believe was really a test of ballistic missile technology. NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg called for North Korea to “refrain from any further provocative actions,” and China expressed “regret” that it hadn’t been able to dissuade Kim Jong Un through diplomacy. The U.N. Security Council, which labeled it a “serious violation,” held an urgent meeting in New York and is expected to respond with a new sanctions resolution.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Who will slide into first? OZY’s Nick Fouriezos, reporting from New Hampshire, says nearly a third of fickle Granite State Republican voters may not even pick their candidate until the early hours of the nation’s first primary tomorrow. Recent polls show Donald Trump up by 10 points, with Marco Rubio quickly closing the gap. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz is down, despite winning the Iowa caucuses last week. And if that’s not enough drama, another eight inches of snow will likely be dumped on voters before polls open Tuesday morning.
It’s a human rights crisis. A new investigation has found that the Syrian government’s state policy when it comes to detainees includes torture, execution and death from neglect. Since anti-government protests began in 2011, thousands have reportedly been killed, both in government custody and in the hands of rebel forces. Hundreds of interviews even yielded reports of children being detained and executed by ISIS. The report calls for “targeted sanctions” against the perpetrators — which could reinforce the determination of Western coalition forces not to ally with the Syrian government in the fight against ISIS.
But don’t panic. President Obama is asking Congress for $1.8 billion, which would go toward controlling the virus in the U.S., where there have been 50 cases so far, and searching for a vaccine. In a TV interview today, the president said “This is not like Ebola; people don’t die of Zika” but stressed that the spread of the virus must be taken seriously, especially as no treatment currently exists. With biotech companies racing to find a cure, the promised $200 million for research would be a welcome shot in the arm.
Three more have been rescued from the rubble. Search crews found a man, woman and child today, pulling them to safety two days after their 17-story apartment complex collapsed in a magnitude-6.4 earthquake in Tainan City. The temblor killed at least 38, most of whom were inside the Weiguan Jinlong building, where scores of people are still believed to be trapped. Taiwanese officials, who’ve ordered a legal investigation into the construction of the apartment building, warn that the death toll is likely to climb over 100.
They want criminals to stop cashing in. A new paper by a former British banking leader calls on governments to take high-value banknotes like €500 notes and $100 bills out of circulation, noting how they “play little role in … the legitimate economy.” But bigger denominations — which average consumers don’t often carry — are vital to the underground economy’s money flows, estimated at around $2 trillion annually. Critics of a cashless society will balk, but the European Commission has agreed to look at the €500 note’s role in financing terrorism.
Two migrant boats capsize off of Turkey, killing at least 35. (BBC)
Bill Clinton lets loose on Bernie Sanders, calling him hypocritical. (NYT)
New refugee camps go up in Syria along Turkish border. (BBC)
Haiti’s Michel Martelly ends presidency without a successor. (CSM)
Steel shortage stops Toyota production. (DW)
Lunar Year of the Monkey begins. (AFP)
Dow briefly plunges 400 points, oil drops below $30. (CNBC)
It was a grinder. Despite all the hype about quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Cam Newton, the defenses dominated Sunday night in a 24-10 showdown. Denver proved a team can win almost entirely on defense, as Manning barely managed 140 yards and no touchdowns. But it was enough to topple the normally unstoppable Panthers offense, which was shuttered most of the game. Manning will now take some time to reflect on his future, though most experts assume he’ll retire with his legacy and second Super Bowl ring secured. Should he stay, or should he go? Take our poll below.
This stings. A new study says that when Asian honeybees were introduced to Europe in the mid-20th century they carried a deadly wing-deforming disease known as DWV. While the imported insects had developed a resistance to the mite-borne virus, native honeybees were vulnerable. Later, the affected European honeybees were introduced to populations in America and other parts of Asia, leading to massive colony collapses. The virus is now spreading to other pollinators, and scientists warn that farmers should screen colonies to stem this major threat to agriculture.
No hands, no charging station. Alphabet is reportedly trying to give its self-driving cars the ability to charge their batteries without plugging in. Instead, they would merely park over street-embedded resonant magnetic induction transmitters and charge up wirelessly. Prototypes are currently being tested in two California locations. Eventually, with properly equipped roads, this technology could even see electric cars charge while they drive. Wireless charging would enable autonomous cars to carry lighter batteries and, if no longer tethered to charging stations, travel much greater distances.
Live and learn. Experience seems to trump everything when it comes to American salaries in education. The older teachers are, the more they make — compared to employees in most fields, who see pay gently decline after peaking in their 40s. Union rules and government regulation mean young teachers make the least in their already low-paid profession, which may explain why 13.5 percent of them drop out. Could changing the rules to spread the wealth boost retention rates, or would that simply make more mature teachers cut class?
She’s in tune with the times. The pop star’s “Formation” video dropped on Saturday, giving everyone a day to learn the moves before she performed it live at the halftime show of Super Bowl 50 in the Bay Area’s Levi’s Stadium. It’s Beyoncé’s first new single since the November 2014 re-release of her 2013 self-titled album. The new song, which focuses on the Black American experience, is being hailed as the awakening of a newly political Bey — who’s now preparing to embark on a world tour.