A path toward less pollution is in place – will Congress stand in its way? President Obama’s plan to lower emissions, including new rules to diminish CO2 from power plants and cars by 2025, was filed to the United Nations today. Every developed country was expected to submit proposals, with the end goal of global standards, before a Paris meeting at the end of the year. But the energy industry might chafe at the ideas, so expect a fight for your right to cleaner air.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Now it’s all up to the jury. After two days of witnesses, the defense has set forth its case. They aren’t betting on getting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev off entirely but on helping him avoid the death penalty. Knowing the jury will almost certainly find him guilty, the defense is hoping for leniency by painting Dzhokhar as a pawn in a game run by his brother Tamerlan, who was killed during the post-bombing police chase. The jury will hear closing arguments Monday and then deliberate until they reach a verdict.
They’re sending the F-16s. After the 2013 military coup in Egypt, President Barack Obama suspended military aid to the country in accordance with U.S. law. He says it’ll help Egypt fight terrorism, but is not currently engaging with the requirement that Egypt prove it’s progressing toward democracy before it can get money from the U.S. government. Meanwhile, Egypt will get F-16s, missiles and tank kits. One caveat: By 2018, Obama says Egypt will no longer be allowed to buy the weapons on credit.
Assailants who took a prosecutor hostage in an Istanbul courthouse have been defeated, but not without cost. The captors, who identified themselves as members of a left-wing group that’s been banned in Turkey, posed in front of a communist banner on Twitter during the six-hour standoff, which ended in police action. Two of the kidnappers are dead, and the hostage died later of injuries sustained during the fight. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is calling for unity in the face of an “attack on Turkey’s democracy.”
It’s a move that could backfire. But students of now-closed for-profit school Corinthian College who owe hundreds of thousands in student loans are taking a stand, asking for loan forgiveness since the school preyed on low-income people. For the first time, the government is paying attention: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has asked for relief for these students, who say the government should have paid more attention to the school’s management. Without government aid, these “debt strikers” face potentially destroying their own credit scores.
They have raised the flag in the center of town. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on television that coalition forces, including Iraqi soldiers and Iranian fighters, pushed out ISIS after weeks of battling. The terrorists had established a base at Saddam Hussein’s former palatial compound. While U.S. officials have not yet confirmed the win – look for an official statement later today – the event could be key in the effort against the Islamic State. Look for a bigger fight in Mosul in the weeks to come.
They’ve run out of time. But talks in Switzerland trying to hammer out a framework agreement by March 31 have gone past midnight — with enough forward motion to make the extension worthwhile, according to the State Department. The talks have seen two extensions already, after a decade of diplomatic negotiating over Iran’s potential nuclear capabilities, and are only aiming to create a general joint statement, not specific terms. Both the U.S. and Iran have indicated they’ll stay in their chairs until they get past the issues that still need to be finessed.
President Goodluck Jonathan’s fortune has run out. Results are in from 35 of Nigeria’s 36 states, giving the former military chief Muhammadu Buhari a two million-plus vote lead that’s now insurmountable. The last holdout is in the North, a Buhari stronghold. Analysts say the win is less an approval of Buharism than a rejection of the current democratic regime, which has seen Boko Haram rampage through parts of the country. Perhaps the iron hand of the former general will bring peace soon, but long-term, the transfer of power between civilians could be a bellwether for democracy in the country.
Indiana isn’t alone. Arkansas has passed a similar religious freedom measure, and Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, says he’ll sign it. That could let Arkansas in for the same trouble Indiana is currently experiencing — companies are boycotting the state, as are the cities of Seattle and San Francisco, and the states of Connecticut, Washington and New York. But for Arkansas, a corporate voice could be a game changer: Wal-Mart, the state’s biggest employer, has asked Hutchinson to veto the legislation.
The press for a peace deal has long focused on Israel, but there’s two sides, and frustration among Palestinians with their own leadership keeps growing. In the West Bank, they’re wondering what President Mahmoud Abbas has done. Their lives have worsened since he took office in 2005 — a term only supposed to last five years, but the next election never came. He hasn’t reconciled with Hamas, despite a pact signed last year, a split that keeps Palestinians from presenting a unified bargaining group. And Abbas, 80, won’t name a successor.
For the first time in about 50 years, Peru’s Congress forced Prime Minister Ana Jara to step down after a no-confidence vote on Monday. Her downfall came from reports published earlier this month that alleged the Peruvian spy agency, Dini, had spied on everyone from journalists to business leaders to military families. Jara canned the top spy and started an investigation, but that wasn’t enough to save her job. President Ollanta Humala, himself accused of scandals and facing an abysmal approval rating, will now see his seventh PM in under four years.
When Argentina defaulted on $100 billion of debt in 2001 it made settlement deals with most of its creditors. But a few holdouts demanding total repayment took the case to U.S. courts, which ruled that Argentina had to repay the hedge funds in full before granting interest to bondholders. Buenos Aires is trying to circumvent the ruling by using European securities depositories to disburse interest that’s due today. But those depositories say they won’t proceed without approval from U.S. courts, so it may finally be time for Argentina to pay up.
Greece asks creditors for an ‘honest compromise.’ (DW)
Teen blogger charged for anti-Lee video in Singapore. (SCMP)
Hotel party preceded deadly NSA shooting. (GMA)
Saudi troops could soon enter Yemen. (CNN)
Obama helps dedicate Edward M. Kennedy Institute. (White House)
Google has unleashed an April Fool’s gimmick a little early this year. The throwback started garnering desktop geek-outs within minutes of dropping. The search engine behemoth has turned some of the world’s most famous addresses into Pac-Man games. Ever wanted to gobble up Times Square? Chase ghosts through the streets of Zürich? Here’s your chance. It’s an Easter Egg, so you’ll have to hunt for spots where the streets turn dotted. But score one for the Mountain View sense of humor.
This was probably inevitable. Trevor Noah, the 31-year-old comedian replacing Jon Stewart as host of “The Daily Show,” has some questionable tweets in his history — jokes about Jews and women that not only mock the marginalized but also just aren’t that funny. Comedy Central called the criticisms “unfair,” while Noah himself asked that the world not judge him by the offending tweets. It’s unlikely this will derail Noah’s path to the hosting chair.
And they’re off! Following the release of the final competition schedule, 7.5 million tickets for the XXXI Olympiad in Brazil went on sale online at 5 p.m. GMT. Only Brazil residents and nationals are eligible to buy tickets for now, which run anywhere from 20 reais ($6.26) for discounted weightlifting competitions to more than 4600 reais ($1440) for the opening ceremony. Foreign fans are required to sign up to a different system if they want tickets for the party next year. While total sales have not been released, expect high demand for Track & Field and the Joga Bonito.
An alarming outbreak of a respiratory disease among kids last year may be linked to strange weaknesses in some children so severe that they had to be put on ventilators. The likely culprit: a mutation of the enterovirus D68 that appears “closer to polio.” It’s the same virus responsible for the common cold, scientists note — just mutated. That’s little comfort for some 100 kids still struggling with the effects — and it’s no guarantee of a cure.
Some are saying “Amen.” While many see Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act as an excuse for discriminating against gay people on religious grounds, it’s opening minds in other ways. Bill Levin, founder of the newly formed First Church of Cannabis, is using the bill as a way to skirt the fact that smoking his church’s “healing plant” is still illegal in the Hoosier state. Levin says his paperwork has been approved, and he’s accepting donations … in denominations of $4.20.
Eating fruit may just mean you’re a smart apple. Researchers tested the adage and found that apple intake was a stronger indicator of social status than frequency of doctors’ visits. The fruit eaters did seem to see physicians less often, but they also tended to be well-educated non-smokers. When socioeconomic factors were eliminated, those differences rotted away. But apple lovers did prove less likely to take prescription drugs, so perhaps it should be “An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away.”
That’ll teach U.S. regulators. The e-commerce giant is anxious to proceed with its promised unmanned delivery service, but the FAA has been dragging its feet on approving the project. So Amazon’s followed through on threats and flown the coop to Canada, where 55-pound drones carrying light packages are now being field-tested in British Columbia. While it’s unclear whether these tests will satisfy American officials, Transport Canada has already approved 1,672 companies for commercial drone use and looks happy to see the industry take off.
Bye-bye, Spotify. Yesterday, Beyoncé’s other half was joined by the likes of Usher, Madonna, Rihanna and Kanye to launch Tidal, the first artist-owned streaming service for music and video. The new platform aims to compete with Spotify and Apple’s service, headed by Dr. Dre. Pricing is tiered, with monthly fees ranging from $10 to $20, but with one major difference to other services: nothing is free. So artists stand to earn more, but first they have to convince customers to ride a new wave.
Powerhouse UConn dominated a feisty Dayton last night, securing their eighth consecutive women’s Final Four slot, and Maryland knocked out Tennessee to join them. Alongside Notre Dame and South Carolina, that makes four No.1 seeds set for the final games for just the third time in the tourney’s 34-year history. They’ll face off on April 5, but UConn, winner of the last two national titles, has a target on their back — with the Fighting Irish, the team they beat last year, hot on their heels.