They’re demanding a say. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously for the bill, which would give Congress review power over President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Obama, facing a bipartisan rebuke, says he’ll sign the bill once it gets through Congress. Under the terms, Congress will have 30 days to approve the deal before any U.S. sanctions can be lifted — but if they disapprove, they’ll need 60 votes to sink the agreement, or 67 if Obama decides to veto their resolution.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Are they abusing their power? More than 90 percent of EU web searches are done through Google, and the EU is preparing to charge the company with giving its own products and services favorable positions in retrieved search results. Google has already made some changes at the European Commision’s request, but its efforts were deemed inadequate. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager hasn’t set out her exact intentions — that’ll happen Wednesday — but Google could find itself with up to $6.6 billion in financial penalties.
They were just trying to escape. A boat carrying African migrants sank on its way from Libya to Italy, killing as many as 400 people, according to the 150 who were rescued after the ship went down. That nearly doubles the number of Italy-bound African refugees who have died trying to cross the ocean since January, setting a new record. Humanitarian agencies are calling for more funding for naval rescues while Italy attempts to deal with the unprecedented numbers attempting to flee North Africa and take refuge in Europe.
We all knew it was coming. President Obama told Congress today he’s going to take Cuba of the list of state sponsors of terrorism, a big step toward warming U.S.-Cuban relations. A State Department review cleared Havana of any recent wrongdoing and Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro hashed it out in a meeting last week — though GOP candidate Marco Rubio, whose parents are Cuban, denounced the move. This could bring increased foreign investment to the island, and could even lead to new embassies for both countries.
Twelve months ago Islamist militants stormed a school in Chibok, Nigeria, kidnapping 219 girls and sparking a worldwide #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Marches are being held around the globe today — including illuminating the Empire State Building with the campaign’s colors of red and purple — calling for an end to violence against women. Amnesty International reports that Boko Haram has abducted at least 2,000 women and girls since early last year. Nigeria’s President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, meanwhile, is vowing to make every effort but “cannot promise” he’ll be able to bring the girls home.
They gunned down 14 people. Four former security guards from private military contractor Blackwater were sentenced to prison for their part in the 2007 deaths of unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. One of the four received a life sentence for murder, and the other three face 30-year sentences on multiple charges, including manslaughter. They maintain their innocence, saying they were under fire from insurgents while securing a path for a U.S. diplomatic convoy, and they all plan to appeal.
Snickering can be heard near the Kremlin. Iran wants sanctions lifted before completing a nuclear deal, so Moscow helpfully agreed yesterday to lift its own embargo, reversing a ban on selling air defense missiles to Tehran. U.S. leaders screamed foul over the $800 million deal’s potential to blow up nuclear negotiations, noting that it weakens their leverage, feeds Israeli fears and undermines U.S. airstrike capabilities. Russia insists it was done “in the spirit of good will” to further the talks, but Obama is unlikely to thank Putin for the help.
Customers may be laughing all the way to the bank soon, as European financial institutions face the prospect of paying clients to borrow money. Economy-boosting measures by the European Central Bank have pushed the benchmark Euribor interest rate close to zero, so some mortgages and other loans could soon have negative rates. Bankinter in Spain is already paying interest to some mortgage customers, leading one happy borrower to declare, “I’m going to frame my bank statement.” Other banks in Spain, Italy and Portugal may soon follow suit.
Russia, Ukraine agree to greater weapons withdrawal. (BBC)
U.S. officials say ISIS has lost 25 percent of territory in Iraq. (USA Today)
Stocks surge in response to Chinese export slump. (SCMP)
10 Dead in attack on Mogadishu education ministry. (The Guardian)
Atlanta teachers get up to seven years behind bars. (NYT)
The wheels are turning in a race to the top. Construction begins this week in the Big Apple on what could become the world’s tallest ferris wheel — unless Dubai can build its contender first. The $500 million, 630-foot New York Wheel will offer panoramic views of Staten Island and Manhattan. Once completed in 2017, it will dwarf the current record-holder, the 550-foot High Roller in Las Vegas. But it may be eclipsed by the 690-foot Dubai Eye — construction there started rolling last week.
Some big players are trading teams. Coca-Cola has ended its sponsorship of the NBA after 28 years, leaving arch-rival PepsiCo free to score the position of official sponsor for the 2015/2016 season. PepsiCo is now three-for-three in the big leagues — it already has sponsorship deals with the NFL and MLB. But it’s not a complete slam dunk for the maker of Mountain Dew and Doritos: Its Coke-guzzling rival just clawed one back by netting a multiyear deal with Major League Soccer.
It’s like Martian antifreeze. NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected perchlorate salts in the Martian soil that can absorb water from nighttime frost to form a liquid brine that resists freezing. It’s the latest evidence that the Red Planet might once have been awash with water: The presence of sedimentary rock suggests the crater that Curiosity is exploring was once a giant lake. Despite small amounts of salty water, the icy temperatures and cosmic radiation still mean Mars is unlikely to harbor any life.
We need a lasso of truth. Michelle MacLaren is bowing out of her feature directorial debut, with Warner Bros. citing creative differences for the split. What really happened remains unknown, but it’s reminiscent of the departure of Patty Jenkins — who would’ve been the first female Marvel director — from Thor 2. And it’s raising questions about gender equality in filmmaking. MacLaren, who has directed Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones episodes, should land on her feet. But it’s unclear whether Wonder Woman will still land in cinemas in 2017.
Lawrence Phillips, former NFL and CFL running back and Nebraska Cornhuskers star, is suspected of murdering his cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison. Phillips, 39, has been serving a sentence of more than 31 years for several 2005 assaults. He’s believed to have killed Damion Soward, serving 82 years to life for murder, and investigators are looking into whether the death is related to another cellmate murder at the prison. If convicted, Phillips is unlikely to run anywhere ever again.