They were the deadliest terrorist attacks Yemen’s ever seen. Islamic State is taking responsibility for suicide bombings at two mosques in Sanaa, which killed at least 135 people. A third bombing in a different province killed at least two people. Yemen has never seen violence from the IS before, but a message from their local affiliate derided the Houthi rebels as “polytheists” and promised more attacks to come. President Hadi, the target of Houthi violence yesterday, is still reportedly in hiding somewhere in the country.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The millionaire heir faces murder charges already, for allegedly killing a female companion in 2000. But could he be responsible for more deaths? Federal agents have asked local police to scour their records for unsolved cases to see if any appear suspiciously linked to Durst in places he lived in the past 50 years, including Vermont, New York and California. Durst’s lawyer says it’s a sign that the FBI is desperate and doesn’t have much of a case. We’ll soon see.
Promises, promises. Benjamin Netanyahu’s last-minute vow to never allow a Palestinian state may have secured him an election win, but it also landed him in hot water with the White House. Bibi backtracked publicly yesterday in an apparent bid to temper the backlash, noting that he supports a sustainable two-state solution. But Obama warned the Israeli leader that the U.S. will now “reassess” its options in light of the divisive campaign pledge, fueling speculation that America may stop protecting its Mideast ally in future U.N. votes.
A passenger train derailed in Uttar Pradesh today, killing at least 30 and injuring dozens. An engine and two wagons reportedly went off the tracks near a village between Dehradun and Varanasi. Rescue teams are on the scene and attempting to pull survivors from the wreckage. Fed up with a recent spate of train accidents, officials are demanding an inquiry, and the crash is bound to fuel widespread criticism of India’s railway safety record.
The federal government is catching up. The profitable, but controversial, practice of forcing chemicals into rocks to get at oil and gas hidden within has developed well apace of government regulations. Fracking’s environmental impact remains a huge controversy. The new rules, which took three years to create, cover public land only, although a majority of wells lie on private grounds. But they’ll require more openness about the chemicals used, and how they’re stored. And this is likely just the start — expect more regulations to come.
For all the positive support, it seems Pope Francis may have made some missteps in Latin America. First, he reportedly expressed concerns over the “Mexicanization” of his native Argentina. Then, in an interview on Mexican television, he said the “devil is punishing Mexico” for all of the current problems there. Those are harsh words for the second-largest Catholic population in the world. Defenders say the pope’s comments were taken out of context, but not everyone agrees.
Netanyahu would like to clarify a few things. His last-minute campaign comments that appeared to dash the hopes of a Palestinian state actually referred to current conditions, he told the media. Things will have to change, he explained today, to make another state feasible. His clarification comes after the U.S. threatened to stop being such a supportive ally on the international stage. Palestinian leaders are already backing out of an agreement on their end, so it seems Bibi has set himself up for a challenge.
But it’s not a break-up. Iran, the U.S., France and the other world powers negotiating over Iran’s nuclear program in Switzerland have taken the weekend off before reconvening — but it’s not clear they will reach an agreement before the agreed-upon deadline of March 31. The U.S. wants a quick deal, while France would rather hold out for better terms. Presidents Obama and Hollande have negotiated privately, seeking unity, but so far neither is caving. If they can team up, they’ll be in a stronger position when talks resume Monday.
Boko Haram’s reign of terror may be ending. Or that’s the line of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, hoping for a March 28 re-election, who says his army will overpower the militant group’s forces within a month. Neighboring African countries have pitched in on fighting Boko Haram in recent weeks, helping to push the group out of Nigeria — but not without consequences. A mass grave was discovered in the town of Damasak containing dozens of corpses apparently slaughtered by the terrorist group on their way out of town.
She’s come to the rescue. Concerned about the fate of the eurozone, German Chancellor Angela Merkel intervened last night in Greek negotiations, resulting in Prime Minister Tsipras agreeing to devise a new reform plan “within days.” The bid aims to accelerate the bailout implementation and help Greece avoid bankruptcy. Tsipras says he’s now “more optimistic” about Athens not needing to take recessionary measures that he feared would prompt a humanitarian crisis. He’ll get Merkel’s ear again on Monday, when he’s set to attend further talks in Berlin.
Europe’s discount Ryanair won’t be coming to America, after all. (FT)
Nine arrested in Tunis attack, ISIS claims responsibility. (Al Jazeera)
Hundreds line up for Sydney siege café’s reopening. (Time)
EU agrees to extend Russian sanctions. (BBC)
McConnell seeks support to halt Obama’s ‘war on coal.’ (NYT)
Former Australian PM Malcolm Fraser dies at age 84. (SMH)
It only lasted eight days. Uber and the feminist organization had planned to collaborate on creating one million jobs for women worldwide through the taxi substitute — but Uber’s poor track record with women and the perceived instability of its jobs caused an outcry. Now the U.N. has canceled the plan to work together, saying it simply declined Uber’s offer. It remains to be seen if Uber will continue trying to create jobs for women on its own.
Maybe he thought bowing out would save him the scandal. Soon-to-be former Illinois congressman Aaron Schock stepped down after a controversy over reimbursement for mileage he never actually drove and will be finished in Congress as of March 31. But the Justice Department is investigating him anyway. It isn’t clear which charges they may pursue against the 33-year-old Schock, but reports say they’re focusing on unreported donors and contributions for things like travel. Subpoenas are going out to D.C. and the Congressman’s home state.
It might be the right tool for the job if people know how to use it. Scientists say Apple’s new health application platform could revolutionize medical research but only if it enforces the profession’s rigorous standards. The software has been applied to apps measuring data for illnesses including Parkinson’s and Diabetes, and thousands of people are already using them. But because nearly anyone can download the app, test subject accuracy could be diluted. Anyone using an iPhone 6 moving forward, then, needs to use the apps responsibly.
By Odin’s spear, the numbers have spoken! Four issues into her reign as Marvel heroine, the female Thor is beating the long-time Asgard hero in monthly sales, compared with his last titular run. When Odin’s son was replaced last year, some long-time readers predicted the switch would fail. Instead, action-packed storylines have buoyed the new title and received praise from men and women alike. While Chris Hemsworth still plays the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, don’t be surprised if he’s replaced in the future.
Someone’s clearly stuck in the past. Mysterious adhesives reading “Exclusively for White People” were posted on at least eight businesses around Austin, Texas, sparking outrage. The stickers, which advised a “maximum of 5 colored customers,” claimed to have been sponsored by the city. But the mayor roundly condemned the stunt, which coincided with the town’s SXSW festival. Most were appalled and found the signs racist, while some wondered whether they were meant to deride gentrification. But whatever the motive, they’re not sticking around.
Every company wants to be out in front. But as tech giants gear up to join the electric car revolution, Tesla may have just taken the lead. The Tesla Model S, already on the market, will soon get an autopilot mode with its next software upgrade, enabling the car to steer itself on highways or private roads. Google’s self-driving car will take a bit longer, but you could be not-driving Tesla as early as this summer, and speculation’s brewing over showrooms full of driverless models by 2020.
Strange things really do come in threes. Today planet Earth hosted the best solar eclipse in years, a supermoon and the vernal equinox. The world did not end as some speculated, though Oxford scientists are studying the event’s consequences on the increasingly abundant European solar-power electricity grid. Only Europe was correctly situated to see the moon cover the sun, with northern Scotland seeing a near-total eclipse. If you missed it, there will be another one on March 9, 2016, visible from the Pacific Ocean. Aloha!
Is offensive trolling hate speech? Social media is alight over whether inflammatory tweets should be labeled criminal, and actress Ashley Judd may be about to test it. When the Divergent star tweeted about her favorite team, Kentucky, facing “dirty” tricks on the court, it prompted an avalanche of insults, from name-calling to threats of sexual violence. She responded with an op-ed yesterday, decrying online bullying of women. A survivor of sexual abuse herself, Judd has filed police reports against the perpetrators and is weighing her legal options.
The MVP is MIA. Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant has been removed from all basketball activities, and the Oklahoma City Thunder star is likely out for the season, all but ending his team’s championship hopes. Durant was expected to return from a foot injury that has hobbled him for months, but hasn’t progressed as expected. Interestingly, Durant’s absence has opened up an MVP opportunity for teammate Russell Westbook who himself missed much of last season with injuries — but has almost singlehandedly kept the Thunder in the playoff hunt.
Those “I Voted” stickers won’t be so special. The U.S. president said mandatory voting might be a good way to fight the influence of money in politics. During an address in Cleveland, Obama pointed to mandatory voting policies in other countries like Australia. Only an estimated 37 percent of eligible U.S. voters went to the polls in 2014. But with Republicans in charge of Congress and expanded voting all but sure to largely benefit Democrats, don’t expect movement on his idea anytime soon.
The march goes on. Reigning champ India walked over Bangladesh by 109 runs, moving on to face Australia or Pakistan in the World Cup semis next week. Fueled by a century from Rohit Sharma (with 137 runs), the world’s cricketing superpower made its opponent look like it was their first time in the quarterfinals … which it was. Team India is now 7-0 and will likely face Australia on March 26.