It took more than a decade and a gut-wrenching trial to get here. A federal jury in Manhattan today found the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization liable for their role in supporting six terrorist attacks in Israel between 2002 and 2004, and ordered them to pay $218.5 million to 10 American families whose relatives were killed or injured. The landmark judgment could lead to more civil cases against groups that allegedly support terrorism. While the awards will be tripled under a special terrorism awards, it’s not clear if the Palestinians will ever pay up.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’ll need an extension on the extension. Greece will submit a list of reforms to Brussels by Tuesday morning, missing the Monday cutoff, in hopes of extending the eurozone bailout by four months. Odds makers say the likelihood that the EU will remain intact is now 75 percent. Back home, however, dissent has grown within the Syriza party and outside the government halls, as left wingers complain they’re being railroaded. Greece will likely get a little more autonomy, and will crack down on tax evaders, but that may not be enough to placate party supporters.
The red carpet got soaked, but the show went on. As rain fell, Hollywood handed out its biggest prizes to Birdman and its director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Patricia Arquette — who made a passionate plea for women’s equal pay — scored an acting statuette alongside J.K. Simmons, Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore. Largely snubbed, Selma won best original song. And host Neil Patrick Harris proved the ceremony wasn’t all wet by joking about the lack of diversity: “Tonight we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest — sorry, brightest.”
This can’t be good for business, which was no doubt the intention. Somali-based terrorists linked to al-Qaida have called for attacks on American, British and Canadian shopping malls akin to the 2013 siege of Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. In a 77-minute video released this weekend, al-Shabaab militants encouraged supporters to target “American and Jewish-owned” shopping hubs, such as the Mall of America. The Minnesota-based venue is taking extra security precautions, and U.S. officials are warning shoppers to be alert.
Who will blink first? Funding runs out this week for the U.S. agency that handles everything from border incursions to terrorist threats. The GOP has tied the Department of Homeland Security budget to illegal immigration, and the Democrats don’t like it. Republicans could shake up the rules over filibusters to push it through, but that sets a procedural precedence few want. A short-term resolution would mean facing the conundrum in a few weeks or months. Either way, the Democrats feel like they’ve got the upper hand already.
Greece is busy adding pluses, and hopefully minuses, to its economic reform policy — due today — in a bid to satisfy eurozone creditors. EU members agreed to extend Athens’ $272 billion loan program for four months, but that’ll fall apart if Greek leaders insist on freewheeling giveaways, like the proposed minimum wage hike that helped secure their electoral win. Investors seemed hopeful as European stocks opened strong, but the markets closed down after bad news from HSBC.
He was one of his own best customers. In 2007, HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver sheltered $7.6 million in a Panamanian company via a Swiss account. The revelation undermines the 55-year-old Oxford grad’s pledge to clean house after the bank admitted to aggressive tax avoidance. Gulliver is a legal Hong Kong resident allowed to keep offshore accounts, but that won’t stop the press from grilling him. He’s set to release HSBC’s annual report — perhaps surrendering some of his own compensation — later today.
Russian president says situation in eastern Ukraine will eventually stabilize. (BBC)
French police seize passports from six nationals allegedly planning to join jihadists. (BBC)
Baby’s death in Germany prompts calls for mandatory vaccinations. (The Guardian)
Australia eyes citizenship laws in bid to combat domestic terror. (BBC)
Thai students face jail for play that ‘insulted’ monarchy. (Malay Mail Online)
UN envoy heads to Damascus in bid to halt fighting. (Al Jazeera)
Blast at rally in eastern Ukraine kills 2, wounds 15. (CNN)
Scores killed in Bangladesh ferry disaster. (Belfast Telegraph)
Start spreading the good news. For years, parents have kept peanuts away from babies for fear of life-threatening allergic reactions. But a landmark study has found that infants who consume about four heaping teaspoons of peanut butter each week, starting between 4 and 11 months of age, are more than 80 percent less likely to develop a peanut allergy by their fifth birthday. Researchers now recommend that most infants should eat peanut products as soon as they wean. Feel free to go nuts
He’s feeling the heat now. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon, a widely cited skeptic of global warming, has collected $1.2 million from the fossil fuel industry in the past decade, according to documents unearthed by Greenpeace. The aerospace engineer with little background in climatology called his papers “deliverables,” often failing to reveal a conflict of interest. Though discredited by mainstream scientists, Soon’s work has helped the Senate’s environmental committee chair claim that man-made warming is a hoax according to scientists who “cannot be challenged.”
Turkey moved a 13th century grave to avoid war, but Syria is fuming. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government launched an operation this weekend to bring home troops guarding the not-so-final resting place of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder. It’s a revered site for Turks, and any threat to it by ISIS — now in control of that area in Syria — might’ve resulted in war. The evacuation avoided militant encounters, but Syria has come out swinging, calling it an act of aggression.
Artistic venues have seen a proliferation of patrons snapping selfies with three-foot-long sticks. While the free PR is good for business, there’s a risk the stick-wielders might damage priceless works of art or fellow visitors. So America’s finest institutions, including New York’s Met, D.C.’s National Gallery and L.A.’s Getty, have banned them. One exclusive Kansas City gallery director sniffed that it’s an “obvious breach of decorum,” but social media addicts might paint a different picture — perhaps one featuring a stick in the mud.
Your kids might be toast if they don’t butter up the teacher. A new study reveals that instructors tend to overestimate the abilities of students whose personalities are most similar to their own. The findings from a German survey of 93 teachers and 294 students isn’t shocking — probably everyone has suffered favoritism in the classroom. But it does underscore the dangers of teacher bias and the need to raise educators’ awareness of it, as well as the responsibility to use more objective assessments of students.
He has the right moves after all. Connecticut’s young Joey Logano steered himself into a Daytona Beach, Fla., win on Sunday after taking a late lead to claim the $1.58 million prize. Logano vied with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson in the last 20 laps, finally nabbing a seat among the sport’s driving elite. Much hyped as a teen, the 24-year-old suffered letdowns in recent years but has now proven he’s got what it takes to move his career into high gear.