The president will take your call now. Russia’s fearless leader answered questions from the public at an annual broadcast. It’s a choreographed session that last year saw an exultant Putin discussing the annexation of the Crimea. This year, his tone turned somber as he sought to assure his constituents that life would improve, after the ruble plummeted and Ukrainian attacks continue. Not all the questions were heavy — one caller wanted to know why he didn’t just invite world leaders for a sauna. They could sweat out their differences, literally.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He’s crossing the aisle, but it could be a fight. The Senate is fast-tracking legislation to offer the president tools to close the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal with minimal input from Congress — but it’s a deal the GOP supports, while Democrats, environmentalists, and union reps have lined up against it, saying the pact will benefit companies at the expense of workers. The legislation still has to pass Congress, and with some Republicans grumbling about handing Obama power, it may not make it through.
It was just a suggestion. Athens has informally floated the idea of delaying its next loan payment to the IMF, due May 12, if it can’t come up with the $800 million. But IMF head Christine Largarde says she wouldn’t support a grace period — ”We never had an advanced economy actually asking for that kind of thing,” she said. Greece is now saying they’ll find a way to make it work, and maintain that leaving the eurozone isn’t on the table, but fear of the Grexit is tanking stocks anyway.
He’ll never fly again. Doug Hughes, the 61-year-old mailman who flew a small helicopter onto the Capitol lawn to protest campaign finance practices, has been charged with violating restricted airspace and aircraft registration rules. If convicted of both, he could be looking at four years in prison, and for now he’s not allowed back into the capital or into the air. For now, he’s handing over his passport and will be sent home to Florida to spend some time on house arrest.
It’s been more than a year since the Malaysia Airlines flight vanished in what’s become one of aviation’s greatest mysteries, and a new agreement would double the search area if the plane isn’t found by the end of next month. A majority of passengers were Chinese, and China, Malaysia and Australia have spent more than $100 million in search efforts off the coast of Western Australia in an area reaching depths of 6,000 meters. Officials say it could be another year before they find some answers.
Well this was unexpected. The Vatican abruptly halted what was supposed to have been a five-year overhaul of how American nuns are treated. The project began in 2012 under the previous, more conservative pope to rein in nuns seen as too liberal and promoting “radical feminist themes.” The announcement came after nuns and Pope Francis met earlier today. Both sides have agreed to remain mum about the details for a month, even as they vowed to keep the faith.
They’re still looking for answers. The 304 victims of the Sewol ferry disaster are being remembered today, one year later, with hundreds of relatives converging at a port near the site of the tragedy. The city of Ansan, which lost nearly an entire 11th grade class in the accident, became a flash point as South Korean Prime Minister Lee Wan Koo was confronted by angry parents who blame government officials for their loss. President Park Guen-hye responded to the outcry, vowing to salvage the ship as soon as possible.
His $40 million NFL contract and Super Bowl days are long gone after the 25-year-old former New England Patriot was found guilty yesterday of the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd. The victim — boyfriend to the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée — was shot six times, but the former tight end maintains that two other men, who are awaiting trial, pulled the trigger. While the case will automatically go to appeal in Massachusetts’ highest court, Hernandez gets a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
They took to the streets to demand a living wage. Strikes were held in more than 200 U.S. cities yesterday as workers agitated for $15 an hour. What started as a campaign by fast food employees has evolved, drawing in everyone from adjunct professors to childcare workers, and their stories of struggle abound. Some critics question unions’ motives and point to franchises’ unwillingness to pay more, but the demonstrators — notably gaining traction ahead of the 2016 presidential election — may settle for nothing less than fair pay.
Move over, Beijing. The combination of an economic slowdown in China and a strong dollar attracting Japanese investment has tipped the scales in favor of Tokyo, which now holds $1.2244 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds, to China’s $1.2237 trillion. That’s good news for the U.S., which could’ve suffered a dip in bond prices linked to China’s sluggishness if Japan hadn’t picked up the slack. And with China expected to boost its investment in U.S. bonds if the dollar’s strength abroad continues, things might get better still.
Brazilian party official steps down amid Petrobas scandal. (BBC)
Teens using more e-cigarettes than tobacco. (WP)
Radioactive theft puts Mexico on alert. (AFP)
Former Rhode Island governor ponders challenging Hillary Clinton. (USAT)
Benjamin Netanyahu likens Iran to Nazis. (DW)
They’re here to stay. WikiLeaks have made it easier to search through the huge cache of hacked Sony emails and documents, more than two hundred thousand in all, with a new online archive. Though it can be used to browse gossip-y tidbits about stars, the activist group says they’re publishing it because Sony execs admit to lobbying and influence peddlings. Now that the full cache is available to everyone, maybe an enterprising user will turn up something new in the trove of data.
They’re fueling the fire. The oil giant’s chairman backed the measure, which will make the company disclose the damage it may be doing to the planet, along with 98 percent of his shareholders. BP is the first major oil company to make such a resolution, in a huge step forward for climate activists who have been lobbying for this kind of corporate disclosure for 15 years. Next up may be Shell, which is seeing support for a similar resolution.
He’s fit, fearless and the public’s favorite. Oregonian body builder Aydian Dowling, 27, is leading the poll for the “Ultimate Guy” to be featured on the cover of Men’s Health’s November issue. With over 33,000 votes, he has more than triple the total of his closest competitor. The trans community has rallied around Dowling — who once recreated the famous Adam Levine nude photo shoot for FTM — putting him in good stead to become the first transgender male on the cover of a major magazine.
That’s a lot of binge watching. The digital streaming service continued experiencing major growth in the first quarter, largely thanks to an expanding international base, netting 4.9 million new subscribers to hit the 40 million mark in the U.S. and 20 million internationally. Overseas expansion is clearly paying off, and Netflix stock soared 10 percent on the news — a sign that investors believe the company will continue to grow. Its upcoming playlist? More video-playing capabilities and improved security.
Humans weren’t even a twinkle in evolution’s eye. Sharpened stones and anvils dating back 3.3 million years have been found near Kenya’s Lake Turkana, beating the previous record by 700,000 years and challenging the theory that the 2.8 million-year-old Homo genus came up with the concept. The Kenyan cache — discovered by archaeologists who took a wrong turn in their dig — may be linked to an ape-like ancestor of Homo sapiens, thus opening a whole new chapter in hominid history.
They’re fighting naysayers. When director Michelle MacLaren departed the long-awaited superhero film, many feared the studio would delay the project — and replace her with yet another male director. But Warner Bros. has silenced critics by hiring Patty Jenkins, who famously departed from her directorial role on Thor 2 over creative differences. This will make her the first female director of a DC Comics franchise, and the quick transition means Wonder Woman might still fly onto screens in 2017 as planned.
The old guard is passing. Anthony Davis, the 22-year-old phenom from Chicago, had the biggest game of his career yesterday, leading New Orleans to its first postseason berth since 2011 with a 108-103 win over the Spurs. Davis netted 31 points and 13 rebounds, making it impossible for legendary big man Tim Duncan to keep up. The Pelicans’ win knocks Oklahoma City out of contention, though the NBA scoring title went to the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, who said he’d prefer a playoff spot.