They’re back at it. Two days after a resounding victory in New Hampshire for the Vermont senator, the White House hopefuls debated in Wisconsin. Hillary Clinton embraced Obama, who’s still popular with Democrats, and argued that Bernie Sanders needs to “level with people” about the costs of his proposals. Meanwhile, a finger-wagging Sanders said it’s more about political “courage” and even promised race relations would “absolutely” be better under him than Obama. Both candidates are vying for an edge ahead of the Nevada caucus on Feb. 20.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Just when the others had agreed to put their guns down, Bashir Assad is vowing to quash the opposition and take back the country. The ceasefire agreement allows for an immediate influx of humanitarian aid followed by a “cessation of hostilities” next week — with exceptions for efforts to rout out ISIS and the al-Nusra Front. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the plan “ambitious,” which seems like an understatement now that Assad is warning he’ll continue fighting “terrorism” throughout the peace process.
Families are desperate for news of loved ones following an early morning riot at a prison in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey that claimed 52 lives. Flames and smoke were seen coming from the building, prompting worried relatives to throw rocks at the gates and shout to inmates for information. Both prisoners and guards are believed to be among the dead after the apparent escape attempt turned violent. Authorities say everything is now under control and that no one escaped, but several others are injured, and the death toll may rise.
They’re running for their lives. Bashar Assad’s regime, backed by Russian airstrikes, is working to recapture rebel strongholds in Syria’s largest city, forcing tens of thousands to flee the province. Water is scarce, aid supply routes have been severed and thousands of refugees are amassing along Turkey’s border. The U.N. Security Council is urging Moscow to halt its bombings, which it says are worsening the situation to the point where hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians could soon be beyond the reach of humanitarian aid.
They’re gunning for you, Donald. OZY co-founder Carlos Watson warned that Trump’s New Hampshire win would see rivals and the media go after him with a “vengeance yet unseen.” It’s already starting, with Ted Cruz painting the billionaire as not conservative enough, and more establishment-friendly candidates taking aim as they struggle to stay in the game ahead of South Carolina’s Feb. 20 primary. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are concentrating on Nevada, where the state’s racial diversity is expected to test the durability of both campaigns.
Who will mind the ranch? The remaining four armed occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge turned themselves in to the FBI this morning, ending a weeks-long protest over federal management of land. Meanwhile, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, father of Ammon Bundy — who led the Oregon occupation until his arrest — was detained last night in Portland. The final holdout, David Fry, told negotiators he was declaring war on the U.S. government before finally surrendering himself.
When Janet Yellen sneezes, the world catches a cold. The Federal Reserve Chair’s testimony before Congress, combined with plummeting oil prices today — below $27 a barrel — have upset markets worldwide. Shares dipped 4 percent in Hong Kong, with European shares following suit and the Dow losing 220 points after open. Yellen told a House committee yesterday that financial conditions in America have recently become “less supportive” of growth, but OZY’s Steve Butler says Yellen will also have to battle an underlying loss of confidence that central banks themselves are the solution to economic woes.
NATO deploys people-smuggling patrols at sea. (BBC)
Former Auschwitz Nazi SS guard, 94, stands trial in Germany. (BBC)
Republican hopefuls Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie end presidential bids. (DW)
Sweden cuts rates even further into the red. (FT) sub
U.S. Senate approves new sanctions against North Korea. (USA Today)
Sexual offense complaints during Carnival quadruple in Cologne. (The Guardian)
Officials say teacher has shot six colleagues in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan province. (BBC)
He really was a genius. Researchers say they’ve observed the warping of space-time by studying a collision of black holes millions of light-years away, thus proving the theory of general relativity. The phenomenon was predicted by Albert Einstein back in 1915, but the detection of gravitational waves — ripples in space and time caused by momentous events — have eluded science for over a century. It’s being hailed as one of the most important scientific discoveries ever and could shed new light on what happened during the Big Bang.
It’s a bra-nanza. Women on the subcontinent are shaking off the chains of beige and leaning in “with a side of lace and polka dots,” writes OZY’s Sanjena Sathian. E-commerce startups like Zivame, Clovia and PrettySecrets are helping sex-positive young women with income to spare become more daring with lacy underthings, while tapping into the country’s $23 billion online shopping industry. The next step? Getting Indians over their lingering preference for brick-and-mortar retail — or just opening physical stores, like Zivame has for fittings.
It’s bias in black and white. Of 10,238 venture deals forged from 2012 to 2014, only 24 involved Black women founders, according to a new report. Kathryn Finney and her startup accelerator Digital Undivided found that those lucky few raised a paltry average of $36,000, compared to the $1.3 million average for startups, typically founded by white males. Black women’s businesses generate over $44 billion annually in America, but they’re “the real unicorns of tech,” the study says, noting how Silicon Valley needs to see diversity as a market opportunity.
Working out is the smart choice. A new study reveals that those with a higher capacity for exercise in midlife had bigger brains later. Researchers gave 1,583 middle-aged people a treadmill fitness test, then waited 20 years and tested them again. They found that those with lower physical fitness in the first test had reduced brain volumes later. This, along with another study linking exercise with neuron growth, further cements the connection between healthy bodies and healthy brains — and gives us another shrewd reason to hit the gym.
There’s just too much cold, hard cash to let it go. It’s been announced that the animated phenomenon will premiere as a live Broadway musical in 2018, with about a dozen new songs from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who composed the hits for the film. Casting has yet to be announced, but nobody needs to worry about their fandom being iced out: There’s also a plan for a movie sequel and a holiday TV special, which reportedly will feature the film’s stars, Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel.
It would’ve changed basketball history. As Bryant played his final game in Cleveland yesterday, reports leaked that his team once secretly tried trading the then-disgruntled superstar to the Cavaliers in 2007 for a 22-year-old James. Cleveland says it’s the only time a team ever called to make an offer for their hometown hero. Bryant insists he never would’ve approved the trade. But James was more magnanimous about the rumor, saying, “If you give up one big fish, you got to get a big fish, too.”