The fifth GOP debate
Nine leading Republican presidential contenders clashed over national security issues Tuesday in a debate highlighted by several feisty exchanges between top tier candidates. The debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, took place with less than two months before the Iowa caucuses – the crucial, first nominating event of the primary election season.
The debate was perhaps the most entertaining installment since the first Fox News debate in August. Donald Trump and Jeb Bush’s weird personal issues with each other went from subtext to explicit, brutal text. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz went at it over the 2013 immigration battle. Ben Carson compared bombing Syria to removing a brain tumor from a small child.
In the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, much of Tuesday’s big CNN presidential debate focused on foreign policy, terrorism, and immigration. Jeb Bush forcefully went after Donald Trump, blasting him as a “chaos candidate” with an impressive repertoire of insults but no serious ideas. Rand Paul also went on the offensive, lashing out at Marco Rubio for being soft on immigration and at Chris Christie for being too hawkish on foreign policy.
Linsey Graham poked fun at Sen. Ted Cruz‘s plan to keep Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in power. “[Cruz’s] favorite movie is apparently The Princess Bride. Ted, getting in bed with Iran and Russia, to save Assad, is inconceivable,” Graham said. “Princess Buttercup would not like this.”
Los Angeles public schools to reopen Wednesday
Schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District will reopen on Wednesday, one day after they were closed due to a threat that officials now say was “not credible.” “Some have used words that I think are probably inappropriate like hoax and other things,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
“Whether it’s criminal mischief, whether it’s somebody testing vulnerabilities of multiple cities, we still do not know enough to say definitively. What we do know is that it will be safe for our children to return to school tomorrow.” More than 900 schools were affected by the closure, which came after school board members received emails containing threats against all LAUSD schools; LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the messages, which did not contain the usual errors found in hoaxes, claimed explosives were left on campuses and people connected to the Islamic State carrying AK-47s would “cause further loss of life.” Los Angeles Times via The Week
N Korea sentences Canadian pastor life in prison
A Canadian pastor, detained in North Korea for 10 months, has now been sentenced to life in prison there “for subversion.”
The Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim was found guilty of anti-government activities and of spreading false propaganda, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua said.
“The supreme court announced that Lim was guilty of joining the United States and South Korea in anti-DPRK human rights ‘racket’ and fabricating and circulating false propaganda materials tarnishing the country’s image,” Xinhua said. His punishment: A lifetime of labor, the agency said.
Lim, 60, ministers the 3,000-member Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto. He is a Canadian citizen who emigrated from South Korea in 1986.
He traveled to North Korea from China on January 30 on a routine humanitarian trip, a spokeswoman for his family said. He was detained in February. Lim had visited the country over 100 times, his family said. CNN
US Defense Chief Visits Iraq to Assess IS Fight
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made an unannounced visit Wednesday to Iraq as part of a trip to seek more help in the battle against Islamic State militants. Carter was expected to meet with Iraq leaders as well as his commanders to get their assessment of the campaign and what else could be done.
The U.S. has been supporting Iraqi forces with airstrikes since August of last year, but has so far ruled out sending ground troops. Islamic State fighters still control large areas in northern and western Iraq, including several major cities.
Carter’s stop in Iraq follows his visit to Turkey, where he urged more Turkish air and ground support for the U.S.-led coalition and pressed Turkey to better secure its border to help prevent fighters from going into Syria.
He also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s announcement of a new 34-nation Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism. VOA
Teens doing fewer drugs, but still smoking pot
There is some good news when it comes to how many American children are doing drugs or drinking, but when it comes to marijuana the news is not as positive. That’s according to the latest National Institute on Drug Abuse Monitoring the Future survey.
The survey annually talks with teens who are in eighth, 10th and 12th grade to get a sense of how many students are using illegal substances and exactly how much they are using. The news the NIH labels “encouraging” is the marked decrease in the number of teens who drink, smoke or use illegal drugs. The levels have fallen so much in so many of the categories that use of these drugs is at the lowest since the agency started doing the survey.
Overall, past-year use of illicit drugs for all grades combined was at 27.2%. That’s down from a peak of 34.1% in 1997.
The general decline in drug and alcohol use by teens is part of a two-decade trend among American teens. However, Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of NIDA, cautioned that we should keep the positive statistics in perspective. CNN
Traveling around the world
- A top Republican was accidentally honest about the Benghazi investigation
- As market tumbles, GOP's 2016 hopefuls blame China, Obama
- Bush: 'Anchor babies' is 'more related to Asian people'
- Cruz sternly rebuked by GOP
- Donald Trump may be dooming the GOP with a 10 percent chunk of the electorate
- Donald Trump, and the unsettling rise of white identity politics