They have a common foe. With time and delegates running out, Donald Trump was hit hard by his rivals and Fox News moderators over his past flip-flops. The billionaire wasn’t afraid to fire back, nicknaming his opponents “Little Marco” and “Lying Ted.” But with a base that’s mostly post-ideological — focused instead on change, no matter how ugly — OZY’s Nick Fouriezos predicts those attacks won’t sway Trump supporters. And when asked to put their differences aside, all four candidates reluctantly agreed to support the eventual nominee.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Kim Jong Un is having a tantrum … over new sanctions aimed at keeping his nuclear ambitions in check. South Korea’s defense ministry reports that Pyongyang has fired six short-range rockets or guided missiles into the sea in response. The sanctions — seven weeks in the making because negotiators had to secure Beijing’s approval — prevent North Korea from selling natural resources for cash that might be funneled into its nuclear program. They’re the toughest measures to be imposed by the U.N. Security Council in more than 20 years.
They’re bringing out the big guns. Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential race, but the former Republican nominee and Massachusetts governor still carries clout with the party — and he’s trying to use it to bring Donald Trump down. Romney’s speech at the University of Utah was blunt: He said Trump would be “very bad for American workers,” and that his economic plans would cause trade wars and recession. There’s no clear rival to support, but other donors and politicians in the GOP are mobilizing against Trump — though perhaps too late.
It’s bordering on mayhem. Macedonia’s blocking refugees from Greece, where more than 25,000 migrants are stranded, and European Council President Donald Tusk is asking “all potential illegal economic migrants” to not come to Europe. “Do not risk your lives and your money. It is all for nothing,” he said today. A French official, meanwhile, has warned Britain about leaving the EU, implying that France might end border controls in Calais if they do — a possibility that is no doubt being discussed today by David Cameron and Francois Hollande, who are meeting in Amiens.
They’re in the dark. While electricity only flows for a few hours a day across most of war-torn Syria anyway, the state media says things took a turn for the worse this morning. The network went down nationwide and for unknown reasons, with residents in Damascus reporting that some mobile and Internet services are down as well. The cause of the disruption is under investigation, but the power is reportedly returning slowly and should be back to normal by midnight, according to authorities. Meanwhile, government and opposition are both looking toward peace talks beginning next Wednesday.
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.
He was a risk-taker. The oil and gas entrepreneur at the front of America’s shale boom died in a single-car crash yesterday in his native Oklahoma City. The tragedy occurred a day after McClendon — loved by oilmen, disliked by anti-fracking environmentalists — was indicted on federal antitrust charges of rigging bids for drilling rights, which he denied. Police have not characterized it a suicide but noted that McClendon had “plenty of opportunity” to correct his course before hitting the embankment. They are still investigating the crash.
Former State Dept. staffer under Hillary Clinton granted immunity. (USA Today)
Obama is vetting Iowa federal appellate Judge Jane L. Kelly for Supreme Court. (NYT)
Istanbul police station attacked by two female assailants. (Al Jazeera)
U.S. Supreme Court erupts in fierce debate over Texas abortion rules. (DW)
Jesse Matthew gets four life sentences for murdering two college students. (BBC)
Do they have a prayer? Every U.S. presidential election since 1972 has had something in common: The candidate who wooed the Catholic vote won the popular vote (though not always the election). Catholics make up almost a quarter of all Americans, and studies show their demographics mimic those of the populace as a whole. While Democrats have a history of earning Hispanic Catholics’ support, Republicans are more likely to win over white Catholics and pro-lifers — but Donald Trump and Pope Francis may have to make peace first.
Are they too freundlich? European data protection authorities have already given the social network a lot of trouble in France and Belgium, but now Germany’s taking a slightly different tack by launching an antitrust investigation. The Federal Cartel Office is looking into Facebook’s data harvesting, saying that as a dominant player it may be taking advantage of terms and conditions that everyone must sign, but few people read — much less understand. After paying a $109,000 fine to a German court for another infraction, Mark Zuckerberg’s company says it’ll be cooperating.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it. While tobacco products have long been banned on flights arriving in or departing from the U.S., there’s been some doubt as to whether the restrictions include electronic cigarettes, which don’t produce actual smoke. The Department of Transportation has just cleared the air, explicitly stating that the ban applies to vaping because passengers could be exposed to aerosol fumes. This might signal a turning point for e-cig manufacturers, who’ve staunchly marketed their product as a socially acceptable alternative to lighting up.
So much for lucky stars. Getting celebrities to headline plays or musicals used to lead to surefire hits. But Scarlett Johansson, Bruce Willis and Daniel Radcliffe have recently starred in shows that closed in the red. While exceptions like Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman still draw crowds, producers are increasingly finding it’s more profitable to just pair celebs with material that matches their on-screen work, like Larry David’s Fish in the Dark. But that may not appeal to movie stars who often take to the stage to escape typecasting.
He was remade in China. The former No. 2 draft pick is returning to the NBA after being named the Chinese Basketball Association’s MVP. The 6’10” forward turned down a “lucrative” Israeli offer to instead return to the U.S. with a league-minimum contract and a team option to extend. Beasley, 27, has faced legal trouble in the past and been accused of lacking focus on court. But Houston — where he’s not expected to make big contributions — may be the perfect place for the Maryland native to rehabilitate his game.