Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina are calling it quits. They’ve both announced that they’re ending their bids for the Republican nomination. Donald Trump, meanwhile, is riding high on his New Hampshire win with 35 percent of the vote, and John Kasich’s positive campaign earned a surprise second-place spot. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders also won by double-digits yesterday, sparking speculation that Hillary Clinton may shake up her staff. But OZY co-founder Carlos Watson says Clinton is still likely to win the nomination as all eyes turn to South Carolina.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re sending Putin a message. The alliance has agreed to show solidarity with its neighbors by beefing up its military presence in Eastern Europe. The enhanced force will reportedly consist of between 3,000 and 6,000 troops rotating through Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria — nations concerned by Russian aggression in the wake of the Ukrainian conflict and the annexation of Crimea. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said an “attack against one ally is an attack against all allies,” vowing that the alliance will respond as a whole.
They could still cease fire. President Bashar Assad’s forces have been advancing against rebels with the help of Russian airstrikes. But even after Geneva peace talks broke down last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart say they’re hoping to salvage a compromise on battling ISIS, which claimed its first Damascus bombing (and an estimated eight lives) Tuesday. If government forces manage to drive the rebels out of Aleppo, it’ll be a major blow to the opposition — and remove Assad’s incentive to make a deal.
Where are the bodies? The Mexican government maintains that 43 students who disappeared in 2014 were killed by a drug cartel and burned in a mass grave — but a new report is challenging that account. The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, which investigated the site for a year, says it didn’t find any physical or biological evidence of the students in the ashes, though it found plenty of other people’s teeth and bones. Mexico’s attorney general is reviewing the report and has vowed to form her own forensic team.
All bets are off … for an interest rate hike. The Federal Reserve Chair told the U.S. House Financial Services Committee this morning that financial conditions in America — including declines in equity prices, higher high-risk borrowing rates and an even stronger dollar — “have recently become less supportive of growth.” China’s economic downturn, and shaky markets elsewhere could further impact U.S. growth, she told lawmakers. U.S. stocks opened higher after her speech, and investors worldwide will be staying tuned for any hints at policy directives when Yellen addresses the Senate tomorrow.
North Korea reportedly executes army chief of staff. (BBC)
Supreme Court freezes Obama’s carbon emissions plan. (Washington Post)
South Africa’s Supreme Court to decide whether to rule in Zuma case. (CNN)
Ferguson City Council wants revisions to settlement, DoJ pushes back. (USA Today)
South Korea to close industrial park run jointly with North Korea. (NYT)
German police say they’ve recovered all bodies from Bavarian train crash. (DW)
They have no stomach for food poisoning. Silicon Valley is crunching big data, digesting food analytics and cooking up molecular detection to help keep us safe from food-borne disease, which the CDC says causes 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Systems currently in place often fail to catch contaminations in time, so tech experts plan to drill down on high-risk foods like meat and poultry, reduce genomic testing turnarounds and provide quick, in-house tests while adding “more transparency” to other foods.
Wave your serene swim goodbye. Though there were only six fatal shark encounters in 2015, the 98 unprovoked attacks broke the previous global high set back in 2000. George Burgess, who tracks the numbers in the International Shark Attack File, isn’t alarmed — it’s just that more people are taking to the ocean for recreational swimming. Recovering shark populations and warming waters may also be factors. Yet even as the likelihood of getting nipped remains statistically rare, it’s cold comfort for those convinced Jaws is just under the surface.
Our noggins are fair-weather fans. Researchers observed 28 volunteers performing various tasks in a dimly lit lab several times throughout the year, each time depriving them of sleep for 42 hours beforehand. Despite controlling for environmental factors, the exhausted participants displayed better ability to pay attention and complete memory tests during the summer months, suggesting that the body internally clocks the seasons. The scientists will next study seasonality at the neuronal level … but they may want to wait a few months before getting started.
He’s coming aboard. The acclaimed Hannibal series creator is no alien to the Trek universe, having begun his career writing for both Deep Space Nine and Voyager. It’s unclear when, or on which starship, this new interstellar series will be set. But fellow producer Alex Kurtzman promised it would introduce new characters and civilizations — so don’t get your hopes up for a Captain Kirk cameo. The new series launches on CBS in January 2017 before moving to the network’s All Access digital subscription service.
His break just got bigger. The Los Angeles Clippers suspended their star forward for four games and are withholding pay for a fifth as punishment for a fight with the team’s assistant equipment manager. Altogether the incident will cost him $859,442. Griffin, 26, is already out for several more weeks nursing the hand he broke in the scuffle. No further punishment is expected from the NBA — but fans and experts have been quick to note the team has fared well without him, going 18-4 in his absence.