After a not-so-Super Tuesday, one-time Iowa poll leader Ben Carson told supporters yesterday that he no longer sees a “political path forward.” The retired neurosurgeon will be skipping today’s debate in his hometown, Detroit, and many, including OZY’s Nick Fouriezos, believe he’s out for good, despite his promises that his grassroots movement “will continue.” Donald Trump, meanwhile, has revealed his plan for replacing Obamacare with “something much better,” in which he aims to facilitate health insurance sales across state lines and make premiums tax deductible.
The Presidential Daily Brief
What goes up must come down. Kim Jong Un is facing new economic and diplomatic sanctions today thanks to Pyongyang’s efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction — dictators playing with nukes and launching missiles is a no-no. The sanctions, which were seven weeks in the making because negotiators were working to secure Beijing’s approval, ban North Korea from selling natural resources for cash that might be funneled into its nuclear program. And they’re the toughest sanctions to be imposed by the Security Council in more than 20 years.
The results are in. Votes have been tallied in all 12 Super Tuesday states, with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton scoring unsurprising victories in Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Virginia. Bernie Sanders eked out four wins, and despite his delegate disadvantage, he’s vowed to keep running until the last contest in June. Ted Cruz claimed Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska. And Marco Rubio got a much-needed boost from his first primary win, Minnesota — though OZY’s Nick Fouriezos says it’s unlikely he can make a comeback at this point.
It’s only the beginning. U.S. Special Operations forces have reportedly apprehended a “significant” ISIS fighter in Iraq — but with the recent arrival of the first American commandos there since 2011, more such captures are likely. The detainee is being interrogated by American forces — a process that they say may take months — and will then be relinquished to local authorities. U.S. officials say that if more ISIS operatives are nabbed, the procedure will be similar, and that they don’t plan to set up a long-term prison facility.
Can they avert catastrophe? The U.N. says the buildup of migrants in Greece who are barred from entering other European states — 8,500 wait at the closed Macedonian border, while 24,000 remain homeless — could become a full-blown humanitarian disaster. The EU’s unveiling a plan to pledge $325 million to tackle the refugee crisis this year — less than Greece had requested but still a huge boon. European Council President Donald Tusk has urged solidarity with Greece and visits Macedonia today, hoping to persuade them to open the border.
The next step is much worse. The U.S. ratings agency says it downgraded China’s outlook to “negative” in light of its weakening currency and what’s widely perceived to be an economic slowdown. Though the country’s debt hasn’t yet been reduced from its current rating of Aa3, a negative outlook is often an early warning sign on the road to being downgraded. Beijing is instituting reforms to stave off further economic slumps, spooked by the same capital flight and shrinking foreign reserves that likely triggered alarm bells at Moody’s.
7.8-magnitude earthquake strikes off western Indonesian coast. (BBC)
Officials say a “high possibility” debris found in Mozambique came from flight MH370. (BBC)
South Dakota governor vetoes bathroom restrictions for transgender students. (NYT)
U.N. votes today on toughest North Korea sanctions in 20 years. (AP)
Spain begins debate over formation of post-election coalition government. (BBC)
Lawsuit questioning Ted Cruz’s eligibility for the presidency dismissed in Illinois. (Reuters)
Chinese ships take control of another South China Sea atoll. (Time)
Russian murder suspected says Allah ordered her to behead child. (Reuters)
Dozens of homes evacuated after New York state train carrying hazardous chemicals derails. (AP)
Now the real work begins. Scott Kelly’s sojourn to the International Space Station was the longest any NASA astronaut has ever taken: 340 days. That’s way behind the Russians, considering cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, who did the nearly yearlong mission alongside Kelly, holds fifth place among his countrymen for lengthiest time in orbit. Now researchers will take over, poking, prodding and testing Kelly — and his twin brother Mark, who stayed on Earth — in an invaluable study of how extended time in space affects the body.
He’s still on top. The Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist was again named the wealthiest person on the planet, sitting atop the annual Forbes list for the 17th time in 21 years, with an estimated fortune of $75 billion. France’s Liliane Bettencourt is the richest woman on the list, coming in at number 11 overall, with a net worth of $36.1 billion. Donald Trump, who only boasts $4.5 billion, was all the way down at number 121 — far below his potential presidential rival, Michael Bloomberg, who has $40 billion.
Dodging American drones wasn’t quite enough to preoccupy al-Qaida’s former leader: Osama bin Laden had time to fathom that an Iranian dentist had planted a chip in his wife’s filling to track her movements. “The size of the chip is about the length of a grain of wheat and the width of a fine piece of vermicelli,” the terrorist wrote in one of many newly declassified letters revealing his paranoia over being tracked. Which, as it turns out, may not have been so far-fetched.
Have they sparked a new arms race? The Chinese have been launching aircraft carriers and subs and ruffling regional feathers with artificial islands (complete with military landing strips) — and now their neighbors are calling for help in hopes the U.S. will answer, one expert says. Those wary of Xi Jinping’s intentions are boosting their own military spending, updating weapons and renewing alliances. But efforts to contain China, according to OZY’s Steven Butler, simply aren’t practical, and the knee-jerk reaction and military buildup may already be working to keep Beijing in check.
It’s time for a remix. Jay Z’s troubled music streaming service ousted two leading executives, Chris Hart and Nils Juell. Some blamed the cuts on internal disputes — the company came under fire for not releasing streaming stats for Kanye West’s new album, meaning it didn’t break the Billboard charts. But Tidal said the firings were part of moving its headquarters from Norway to New York City. The news comes amidst rumors that the rap mogul may be looking to sell his company, with Samsung supposedly a leading contender to buy.
It’s not always good to be first. The Yankees closer was thrown the first punishment under MLB’s new domestic violence policy. Reversing an earlier statement, the Cuban 28-year-old, acquired from Cincinnati in December, said he wouldn’t challenge the suspension. He maintained that he “did not in any way harm” his girlfriend, but Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league’s policy doesn’t require a conviction or even formal legal charges. Chapman will be allowed to participate in spring training and exhibition games before his suspension begins at the start of the season.