2016 Watch
March 3, 2014

Here's Hillary Clinton happily offering Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a symbolic "reset button" for American-Russian relations:

[AP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini]

The event was viewed as bungled at the time because the Russian word imprinted on the button meant "overcharge" instead of "reset." But the longer-term implications of the "reset button," particularly in the wake of the Russian invasion of Crimea, may be far more damaging for Clinton than a translation gaffe.

Republicans can charge that Obama and Clinton badly misinterpreted the signals from the Russian government, and instead of welcoming Russia in from the cold, should instead have been guarding closely against Russian territorial expansionism in Eastern Europe. And in the post-Crimea world, if opinion shifts toward the idea that Mitt Romney was right about Russia, those charges have a chance of sticking.

How much effect this will have on Clinton's presidential ambitions likely depends on whether the crisis escalates any further. If further escalation can be avoided, any harm to Clinton's reputation may be avoided, too. But a larger crisis could more seriously damage her 2016 prospects, if not in the Democratic primary, then in the general election itself. John Aziz

Things that make you go hmmm
5:56 a.m. ET

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the frontrunner to take over the House speakership from John Boehner after he steps down in October — or at least he was until he seemed to acknowledge last week that the House special committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, was essentially aimed at keeping Hillary Clinton from becoming president. That widely panned gaffe is the centerpiece of this new ad from the progressive Agenda Project Action Fund.

"Just like Joseph McCarthy before him, Kevin McCarthy and his fellow Republicans are using their constitutionally granted powers not to advance the interests of the America people, but instead to try to destroy their political enemies," AP Action communications director Erik Altieri said in a statement. Trying to tie the two Republicans together by the common Irish last name isn't a new idea — Stephen Colbert made the same point, with a lighter touch, on Friday. But the ad is also an interesting strategic move for AP Action, since Kevin McCarthy's top competitor for the speakerships is currently Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of, yes, the House Select Committee on Benghazi. You can watch the ad below. Peter Weber

4:59 a.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Trade negotiators from the U.S. and 11 Asia-Pacific countries said late Sunday that they are optimistic they'll be able to announce a final Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal on Monday, after almost eight years of negotiations. The trade officials, meeting in Atlanta, had suggested earlier that a deal could be announced on Sunday, but ongoing haggling over drug patents, dairy exports, and other issues held up a final agreement. If finalized and ratified by the signatory countries, the landmark TPP would open up trade and set commerce ground rules for 12 countries representing about 40 percent of the global economy.

Several breakthroughs had spurred hopes that this five-day meeting would seal the TPP deal, including a compromise between the U.S. and Australia over the exclusivity period for brand-name pharmaceutical firms to sell advanced biologic drugs — Peru and Chile are still concerned — but New Zealand is still pressing for greater access to foreign markets for its dairy products. Japan, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico reached tentative agreement on a deal governing the manufacture of automobile and auto parts.

If the deal is finalized, the fight begins to get it ratified in all 12 member nations, with one of the biggest question marks the U.S. Congress. President Obama faces skepticism from Democrats and allied labor and environmental groups, and while Republicans tend to support free trade deals, some have expressed concerns about provisions that help labor unions and shorter exclusivity periods for brand-name drugmakers. The 2016 presidential race is a wild card, and Congress won't vote on the deal until early next year, when the fights for each party's presidential nomination are in full swing. Peter Weber

3:47 a.m. ET

A threat made online against "an unspecified university near Philadelphia" is being monitored by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Drexel University sent alerts out notifying students and faculty about the threat on Sunday, USA Today reports. On the University of Pennsylvania's Division of Public Safety website, a message said the ATF warned that the threat included a "specific date of Monday, Oct. 5, 2015, 1 p.m. Central time/ 2 p.m. Eastern time." Although the FBI and ATF said they have "no knowledge of any specific threat," the university said, in an "abundance of caution" it is monitoring the situation and has increased police, security officer, and CCTV patrols. Drexel University said on its website that the threat was posted on social media after Thursday's shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, USA Today reports. Catherine Garcia

3:20 a.m. ET

Mental illness is "the thing actors pretend to have in order to win Oscars," John Oliver beings on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, and that darkly comic tone carried through the entire hard-hitting segment on mental health. "We don't like to talk about it much," Oliver said of mental health, and "when we do, we don't talk about it well" — he singled out Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil as prime examples.

One sign of just how much Americans don't like to talk about mental health is that one of the only times it comes up is after mass shootings, "as a means of steering the conversation away from gun control," Oliver said, playing clips of several Republican presidential candidates reacting to the latest mass shooting, in Oregon. "It seems like there is nothing like a mass shooting to suddenly spark political interest in mental health," but that's actually the worst time to talk about it, Oliver said, noting research that shows the large majority of mentally ill people aren't violent and only 5 percent of shooting deaths are committed by mentally ill people.

But if America is going to talk about mental health, Oliver said, it might as well do it right. There are about 10 million people with a serious mental illness in the U.S., almost the population of Greece, he noted, "and most of us know a lot more about Greece than we know about our mental health system." So he gave viewers a brief overview of the system, starting with John F. Kennedy's never-funded attempt to shift the mentally ill from asylums to mental health clinic, touching on a terrible practice called "Greyhound therapy," and including the damning statistic that the most common place for America to house the mentally ill is in jail — 10 times more than in state psychiatric facilities. "Our whole system needs a massive overhaul," and it won't be easy, Oliver said. But "if we're going to constantly use mentally ill people to dodge conversations about gun control, then the very least we owe them is a f--king plan." Watch below. Peter Weber

hollywood 411
3:10 a.m. ET
Stephen Lam/Getty Images

The new $33.5 million film Steve Jobs opens Friday, but the Apple co-founder's widow reportedly tried her best to get the project scrapped, sources tell The Wall Street Journal.

Laurene Powell Jobs reportedly went to Sony Pictures Entertainment, which wound up passing on the movie after developing the script, and Universal Pictures, which is releasing the film, in an attempt to kill it. The film, directed by Danny Boyle with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, is based on the biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson; before Jobs died in 2011, he cooperated with Isaacson on the book. Michael Fassbender stars as Jobs, and the movie looks at the launch of the Macintosh computer in 1984, the NeXT computer in 1988, and the iMac in 1998, while focusing on Jobs' relationships with several people, including daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Those real-life people chosen to be characters in the movie were interviewed by Sorkin, who said the final product is different from the book; Wozniak told The Journal it's "about Jobs and his personality. I feel they did a great job."

Others who were close to Jobs say the movie doesn't accurately reflect who he was as a person. Bill Campbell, a friend and Apple board member, told The Wall Street Journal that he hasn't seen the film, but believes "a whole generation is going to think of him in a different way if they see a movie that depicts him in a negative way." Producer Scott Rudin said Laurene Powell Jobs was invited to help develop the film, but declined. "She refused to discuss anything in Aaron's script that bothered her despite my repeated entreaties," Rudin said. She "continued to say how much she disliked the book, and that any movie based on the book could not possibly be accurate." Laurene Powell Jobs declined The Wall Street Journal's request for comment. Catherine Garcia

making strides
2:15 a.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

For the first time, this year the World Bank expects the number of people living in extreme poverty to fall below 10 percent of the world's population, to 702 million people.

The global poverty line was introduced by the World Bank in 1990, set at $1 a day. In 2008, it was adjusted to $1.25 a day, and after taking into consideration new data on cost of living in different countries, is now $1.90 a day, The Guardian reports. The World Bank projects that in 2015, 9.6 percent of the world's population will live in extreme poverty, down from 12.8 percent, or 902 million people, in 2012. "This is the best story in the world today," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said. "These projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty."

In 1990, 1.9 billion people lived on less than $1.25 a day, compared to 836 million today, the UN says. The World Bank credits economic growth rates in emerging markets and education and health investments for the decrease in poverty rates. When it comes to the global poor, half live in Sub-Saharan Africa, the bank says, and by 2020, an estimated 50 percent of those living in extreme poverty will reside in countries that are torn apart by conflict and cut off from the rest of the world. Catherine Garcia

One word: Plastic
2:12 a.m. ET

Starting this month, large British retailers have to start charging customers at least 5 pence (8 cents) for each single-use plastic bag. In the U.S. — a huge consumer of plastic bags — some large cities have instituted bans on giving out bags for free, and several other countries, including Denmark and Ireland, have charged for using bags for years. The results have been stunning, The Economist says in the video below. If you live in one of those places, you probably know that the transition can be hard — you don't always remember to bring your own bag, for example, which is annoying — but this video makes the case that the "humble" plastic bag is so "horrible" it's worth doing, anyway. Watch below. Peter Weber

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