They’re demanding a living wage, everywhere from New York to New Zealand. Strikes are being held in 236 U.S. cities and more than 100 others worldwide as workers agitate for $15 an hour. What started as a campaign by fast food workers has evolved, drawing in everyone from adjunct professors to childcare workers. Stories of struggle abound, and while some critics question unions’ motives and franchises’ willingness to pay more, demonstrators around the globe may settle for nothing less.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He had a $40 million contract with the New England Patriots. Now Hernandez, 25, faces life in prison without parole for killing Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiance’s sister. Lloyd was shot six times, but the former tight end’s defense maintains that two other men, who face their own trials, pulled the trigger. The case will appeal automatically, but Hernandez faces another trial for a drive-by shooting that killed two men, allegedly in a dispute over a drink spilled at a nightclub.
He was delivering a political statement. Doug Hughes, a 61-year-old mail carrier piloted his tiny one-man helicopter into restricted airspace today in hopes of drawing attention to campaign finance reform. He was immediately surrounded by Capitol Police with rifles, who have detained him. Before his flight, Hughes explained that he would be carrying 535 letters, one addressed to each member of Congress. He wasn’t carrying anything dangerous, but that won’t fly with the FAA, which is holding its own investigation.
They were so close to peace. Guerilla group attacked Colombian soldiers Wednesday, killing 11 and wounding 19, decisively destroying their fragile peace with the military. President Santos ordered an end to bombings of FARC hideouts in December while peace talks inched forward in Havana, but bombing will now resume despite protests from FARC, who say they acted in self-defense. Though this should amp up mistrust on both sides, it’s not likely to hinder the peace talks themselves — but it does call into question whether FARC can control its soldiers.
Its name has been cleared. Havana has welcomed Obama’s “just decision” to remove the island nation from America’s list of state sponsors of terror. Cuba first hit the list in 1982 for its support of rebel movements in Africa and Latin America, but Raul Castro’s administration insists it now “rejects and condemns” terrorism. Congress has 45 days to draft legislation to block the change — considered unlikely — before it becomes official, ushering in a new era of diplomatic relations for the long-split neighbors.
He’s letting them say their piece. U.S. lawmakers will now get a voice on any Iranian nuclear deal, should one be reached by June 30. Obama has agreed to compromise and sign a bipartisan bill that passed — with unanimous support — through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It would give Congress a limited time to review any proposal without Obama waiving sanctions. The catch? If lawmakers reject a deal, the president can veto with just 34 senators’ support, which should help the U.S. save face in negotiations with Iran.
They just wanted a better life. A Europe-bound migrant ship has capsized off the Libyan coast, reportedly killing as many as 400 people after the passengers crowded to one side of the boat upon spotting a rescue ship. Nine bodies have been found, with many more expected, and about 144 people were saved. Traffickers are reportedly running out of boats, leading to increasingly treacherous journeys. This tragedy will sadly boost statistics, which tripled last year, of lives lost in the Mediterranean during the pursuit of the European dream.
Are they feeling lucky? Brussels is charging the company — which accounts for more than 90 percent of EU web searches — with breaching antitrust rules by boosting its own products and services in search results. The Internet giant has already made some changes at the European Commission’s request, but its efforts were deemed inadequate. The EU’s competition commissioner filed an official complaint today, which could ultimately force Google to change its ways and pay more than $6 billion in fines.
Senate approves sweeping changes for Medicare. (NYT)
U.S. to exhume Pearl Harbor victims for identification. (BBC)
Nokia confirms purchase of Alcatel-Lucent. (FT) sub
China’s economic growth slows to six-year low. (WSJ) sub
Close, but no cigar for Space X rocket landing. (CNN)
The public is having their say, and they want Aydian Dowling. The 27-year-old Oregonian body builder with a viral internet following has 25,000 votes in the poll seeking the “Ultimate Guy” for the cover of Men’s Health’s November issue, which is nearly triple the total of his closest competitor. The trans community has rallied around Dowling, who would be the first trans man on the cover of a major magazine if he wins the spot.
That’s one way to get monetary policy in the headlines. Josephine Witt, a former member of protest group Femen, filed calmly into the ECB’s Frankfurt press conference along with the crowd — and then jumped on Mario Draghi’s desk and dumped papers and confetti on his head while chanting “End ECB Dictatorship.” She was dragged away by security and Draghi finished his address. It’s a silly stunt, but one that illustrates how tense the eurozone is getting about ECB control over poor countries that need access to its cash.
They’re being driven to drink … less. Scotland passed a new drunken driving law in December that reduced the legal blood alcohol limit by 40 percent, down from 80 mg in every 100 ml of blood to 50 mg. This is reportedly keeping people from having a pint after work or a beer with lunch, and may also be driving the 60 percent slump in bar sales since January. Northern Ireland is now ginning up for a similar change, and the rest of the U.K. may not be far behind.
Can money buy happiness? CEO Dan Price announced a whopping new minimum salary for his credit card processing firm: $70,000. While doubling the earnings for 30 of his 120 employees, Price is also cutting his own pay from nearly $1 million to $70,000. He attributed the move to research indicating that salary makes a difference in happiness, but only up to about $75,000. It’s one way to battle the widening gap between executives and employees, but some doubt it’ll spark a trend — or enable Price’s company to grow.
But they’ll keep looking. Scientists at Penn State have scanned 100,000 galaxies for radiation, a byproduct they believe would be produced by any alien civilizations advanced enough to colonize other worlds. This idea has been around since the 1960s, but now telescopes are advanced enough that researchers for the G-HAT (Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies) survey can scan the sky for telltale signs of life. They haven’t found alien realms yet, but the team says 50 galaxies did have odd radiation patterns that warrant further study.
He struck gold early. The Alabama native, who first sang in his farming town’s gospel choir, hit it big with “When a Man Loves a Woman,” his debut song for Atlantic Records. He missed out on royalties for the 1966 chart-topper because, though he said he wrote most of it, he was never listed as a co-writer. Yesterday, Sledge died of liver cancer in Baton Rouge, drawing tributes from artists like Michael Bolton, who revived the King of Slow Soul’s legendary tune to great acclaim in 1991.
They had more magic than the Wizards, but can they wrestle bears? After taking down Washington 99-95 in a dramatic 3.5-hour double-overtime thriller, the Pacers, who have won their last six games, have become the eighth seed, just above the Brooklyn Nets. Today Indiana will face the powerful Grizzlies and try to pull off an extraordinary end-of-year run. A win over Memphis — or a Nets loss — would put Indiana on pace for a fifth straight playoff appearance.