Obama tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma on July 16, 2015.
Good morning and welcome to Fresh Intelligence, our roundup of the stories, idea, and memes you’ll be talking about today. In this edition, Obama reforms the prison system, the Planned Parenthood videographers get a nasty surprise, breakfast saves the economy, and your shirts are nicer than Mark Zuckerberg’s. Here’s the rundown for Tuesday, January 26.
The East Coast is still recovering from last weekend’s record-breaking storm. Elsewhere, rain and thunderstorms are expected across the South, and a snowstorm is heading toward the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region. [Weather.com]
Obama Limits Solitary Confinement
In an op-ed that appears in Tuesday’s Washington Post, President Obama lays out his opposition to solitary confinement, and says he is limiting its use in the federal-prison system. The practice will be banned for juveniles and as a punishment for low-level infractions. Those who must be in solitary will have more time outside their cells, and Obama says, “In those cases, the practice should be limited, applied with constraints and used only as a measure of last resort.” [WaPo]
EARLY AND OFTEN
Debates Already in Reruns
The three — that’s right three — Democratic candidates came together for an Iowa town hall last night, marking their last shared event before Monday’s Iowa caucus. The debate-lite held few surprises with Sanders, Clinton, and O’Malley setting out their policies and taking subtle, civil jabs at each other. No one even questioned where O’Malley was born, despite his ethnic last name.
Planned Parenthood Investigation Does Not Go As Planned
A Texas grand jury investigating a secret recording that purportedly showed Planned Parenthood representatives in talks to buy fetal tissue has returned two shocking indictments — for the pro-life filmmakers, not Planned Parenthood. They were indicted for tampering with a governmental record and for the purchase and sale of human organs.
Obama Declines to Endorse Candidate, But If He Did It Would Be Hillary for Sure
The latest stop in President Obama’s “Nothing to Lose” lecture tour found him sitting down with Politico’s Off Message podcast. The president tried his best to remain neutral in regard to the ongoing primaries, but made it clear he prefers Hillary every time he opened his mouth. He called her “wicked smart,” and said she presents “a recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives.” [Politico]
Trump–Fox News Feud Is 2016’s Best Rivalry
Donald Trump says he’s still thinking about boycotting the last Republican debate before Iowa. So is he protesting the bloated debate schedule, or perhaps the focus on theatrics over serious issues? Nope! He’s just worried about Fox New anchor and debate moderator Megyn Kelly being mean to him.
THE STREET, THE VALLEY
Oil Totally Bananas, World Not Far Behind
After a brief rally last week, the oil market is back to its old tricks, mainly diving precipitously. As oil dipped below $30 a barrel — again — world markets followed suit, shedding points in Europe, Asia, and the U.S.[Bloomberg]
McMuffin Enthusiasts Save Company
An unexpected surge in U.S. sales had McDonald’s more than doubling analysts’ estimates last quarter. The surprise success is being attributed to the introduction of all-day breakfast. Drugs: Is there anything they can’t do? [CNBC]
Sprint Still Dropping Calls, Jobs
Sprint has cut at least 2,500 jobs, mostly from where they can least spare them: customer service. The telecommunications company also shut down call centers in Virginia, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Texas in a bid to cut $2.5 billion in costs. [Reuters]
Karma Is a Late, Insignificant Fee
In one of those things that sounds much better than it is, JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay out $1.42 billion in cash to settle a lawsuit accusing the bank of draining Lehman Brothers of cash just before the 2008 financial collapse. To put things in perspective, JPMorgan reported nearly $6 billion in profit last year. [Yahoo]
Sopranos-Inspired Professor Is Big House–Bound
The media professor, who angrily and awkwardly called for some “muscle” to strong-arm a reporter who was trying to report on protests at the University of Missouri last year, was charged with misdemeanor assault on Monday. You know what they say about fundamental human rights: If you can’t do, teach. [NBC]
Everybody Knows What Costs Means
Guardian Media Group, the publisher of The Guardian and The Observer, has announced it will try to cut running costs by 20 percent in three years. Sounding like someone who’s never run a newspaper before, representatives of the company said they hope one day to break even. [The Guardian]
Spotify Move Would Have Been Groundbreaking in 2007
Music-streaming service Spotify announced plans to roll out video content on its mobile players by the end of next week. The service will feature media from VICE, BBC, Comedy Central, and ESPN, among others. Now we can watch Comedy Central shows on our phones! Wait. [WSJ]
Mark Zuckerberg is back in the office today after taking paternity leave. He posted this picture of his closet while trying to decide what to wear for his first day back. Not exactly how we’d spend $36 billion. [The Verge]
Oregon Militia Makes Misguided Attempt to Bully Christie
The armed militants occupying a federal nature preserve in Oregon have already produced some astounding memes, and now they’ve entered their Surrealist period with this video of a “patriot” challenging Chris Christie to ten rounds of sumo wrestling. We are 98 percent positive that this guy isn’t actually Christie’s brother, and 99 percent sure that the governor could make him cry like a baby. [Raw Story]
OTHER LOCAL NEWS
Climate-Change Alarmists Win Legal Battle
A Kentucky-based religious group building a presumably life-size — or at least very large — replica of Noah’s Ark as a tourist attraction has won a court case granting them access to a tax incentive worth millions of dollars. What good the money will do them after the deluge is still unclear. [ABC]
Quick Brown Dog Jumps Over Lazy Humans
An adorable 2-year-old bloodhound named Ludvine came in seventh in a half-marathon in Alabama yesterday. The hound got away from its owner during a pee break and took off, running the whole marathon in one hour and 33 minutes. [Yahoo]
America: Still Closed
The Office of Personnel Management has decreed that government offices in Washington, D.C., will remain closed for one more day to give the city time to deal with the weekend’s snow storm. Looks like nature is doing Ted Cruz’s job for him. [Federal News Radio]
Educational Field Trips: Back On
Four Smithsonian museums are set to reopen on Tuesday for the first time since the storm hit, giving bored federal workers something to do on their day off. [AP]