No drama. They kept cool during the Florida debate, sticking to policy rather than insults. OZY’s Nick Fouriezos, reporting from Miami, says that avoiding confrontation with Donald Trump, who got Ben Carson’s endorsement today, could signal that candidates feel it’s too dangerous to keep swinging at the front-runner. But lines were drawn over the possibility of a contested GOP convention: John Kasich is in favor, Trump is opposed, and Ted Cruz called that scenario “an absolute disaster.” Only Marco Rubio remained coy, simply promising to trudge on despite “disappointing” results.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Following Tuesday’s loss in Michigan, Hillary Clinton came back swinging in Miami last night, where she and Bernie Sanders debated vigorously on immigration, Cuba and health care as they courted the Hispanic vote. The former secretary of state dredged up Sanders’ support of Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, while the Vermont senator accused Clinton of turning her back on Honduran children. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, held a rally in Hialeah, but OZY’s Nick Fouriezos reports that turnout was strikingly low for the Florida native, who desperately needs Hispanic support to stay afloat.
She’ll be the puppet master. The human rights campaigner and Nobel laureate, whose National League for Democracy won by a landslide in November, is constitutionally barred from holding Myanmar’s presidency. But she’s vowing to rule from the sidelines, and today the NLD named two out of three nominees for the role. Henry Van Thio was nominated in the upper house. But it’s Htin Kyaw, a close advisor and former driver to Suu Kyi — put forward in the lower house — who’s expected to win the presidency.
He’s been a charity boxer, snowboard instructor, actor and teacher. But tonight, Justin Trudeau, the newly elected Canadian prime minister, will enjoy the first cross-border state dinner since Bill Clinton and Jean Chrétien broke bread in 1997. He and Obama announced the expansion of customs pre-clearance locations north of the U.S. border, and discussed carbon emissions and trade. Likened to a Canadian JFK, Trudeau’s countrymen expect their charismatic and hunky young leader to put the Great White North back on the world stage, starting at the White House today.
These could be an invaluable weapon. The documents, which were obtained from an ISIS defector who stole a memory stick from the group’s head of internal security, list 22,000 names, addresses and phone numbers of recruits — and while many of these are likely duplicates, it’s still a treasure trove of information that could help identify those who have traveled overseas to fight with ISIS. The documents are believed to be authentic, but it’s not clear yet whether they’ll be shared with other nations that are also fighting against the terrorist organization.
They like being negative. At today’s European Central Bank meeting President Mario Draghi announced expanded efforts to boost the eurozone’s recovery by cutting its benchmark interest rate to 0 percent from 0.05 percent. His team’s also expected to increase bond-buying programs by as much as $16 billion per month, news that sent the euro to a three-week high. Some senior European bankers warned yesterday that negative rates were hurting profits and risking financial bubbles, so Draghi will have to convince skeptics that low rates can stave off deflation and boost economic growth.
VW America CEO Michael Horn resigns in wake of scandal. (BI)
Prosecutors file charges against Brazilian ex-president Lula da Silva. (IBT)
South African woman found guilty of 1997 baby snatching. (BBC)
Bond trader John Gutfreund dies at age 86. (FT) sub
North Korea reportedly fires two short-range ballistic missiles into sea. (BBC)
Justice Department accuses Apple of “false” rhetoric in iPhone case. (CNBC)
They’re not in harmony. On Wednesday, news surfaced that Sony Music plans to sever ties with the controversial producer, who has been battling allegations from pop star Kesha that he verbally and sexually abused her. Attorneys for Dr. Luke, whose contract with Sony is not set to expire until 2017, released a statement refuting any split, claiming, “This is not true. Luke has an excellent relationship with Sony.” Sony, which in recent weeks has faced increased pressure to drop Dr. Luke and release Kesha from her contracts, has yet to comment on the matter.
Did they get a raw deal? West Virginia lawmakers celebrated overturning a ban on raw milk by sipping some of that very product … and have now become ill with fever, vomiting and diarrhea. An anonymous source told local media that the sick lawmakers all became ill after tasting the unpasteurized drink. But State Rep. Pat McGeehan denies the beverage had anything to do with his “bad stomach virus,” which he says has been plaguing the state capitol. Health officials have been called in to investigate the outbreak.
The Crusaders are going dancing. In a stunning upset, ninth seed Holy Cross edged out Lehigh 59-56 to capture the Patriot League Championship and earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. The victory comes after an improbable streak of postseason success for the 14-19 Crusaders, who failed to win a single conference road game during the regular season and are only the 25th team in history to make it to the Big Dance with a losing record. When March Madness begins next week, it’ll be the team’s first appearance since 2007.
Time to settle for an imperfect match? We won’t judge your love life, but when it comes to kidneys, it may be the difference between life and death. An eight-year study has found that patients who are difficult to match with donors — those with lots of antibodies ready to attack alien organs — can succeed with an imperfect match combined with desensitization therapies. Doctors say this could make transplants cost up to $30,000 more — but it’s a better price to pay than lifetime dialysis or early death.
They’ve settled the score. The financial services company agreed to compensate the California Public Employees’ Retirement System over a 2009 suit alleging that Moody’s acted negligently by giving high scores to bonds backed by subprime mortgages. The nation’s largest public pension fund says it lost more than $1 billion after the financial crash from investments directly tied to those bonds. The settlement, which follows a similar agreement with Standard & Poor’s for $125 million, will be put back into the employees’ fund “to help ensure [its] long-term sustainability.”
They’re going it alone. Budding young actresses aren’t waiting to be cast in other people’s tales — they’re increasingly writing, directing and performing their very own shows, with stars and nobodies alike creating works that let them fly solo on stage. Low-commitment platforms like YouTube and crowdfunding tools like Kickstarter have helped lower financial barriers. While some roll their eyes at the trend, others see it as a way to boost women’s equality in theater and possibly break onto Broadway with a splash.
Win some, lose some. The Super Bowl champs have lost their top two quarterbacks. Just days after Peyton Manning retired, his 25-year-old heir apparent signed a four-year, $72 million contract with Houston. Denver reportedly tried convincing Osweiler to stay, but general manager John Elway was quick to dismiss the departed QB, noting that “building a team with players who want to be Denver Broncos” has been a “successful approach.” Elway will likely look at Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick or Robert Griffin III to help defend Denver’s title.