The grand jury has spoken. Six Baltimore police officers have been indicted on multiple counts in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man. The office of Maryland prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby first filed charges — including one count of second-degree murder— on May 1. Today’s indictment adds the charge of reckless endangerment of Gray, who died of a spine injury while in police custody. The officers are due in court on July 2 for arraignment.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Are they closing in on Assad? The militants overran the 50,000-strong Syrian town known as “Venice of the Sands” in central Homs province yesterday, sparking concern for its ancient ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating to the first century. The militants — known for destroying artifacts seen as “idolatry” — also hope to gain advantage from Palmyra’s gas fields and proximity to Syria’s central road network. Some fear this means the extremists are a step closer to advancing on government-held areas like Homs and Damascus.
Car bomb, meet missile. American officials are sending 1,000 anti-tank rockets Baghdad’s way to help thwart suicide car bombings by ISIS. The militants used vehicle-based explosives — taking out entire city blocks — on their path to victory in Ramadi last weekend. President Obama, determined to ensure their conquest is temporary, is reportedly considering other options to bolster anti-ISIS efforts. Defeated Iraqi troops, meanwhile, are amassing alongside Shiite militiamen and volunteers outside the besieged town as American advisers help Iraq plan its next move.
It’s time to open up the den. Boy Scouts of America president Robert Gates said the organization should allow openly gay adult leaders for the first time in its 105-year history, giving activists hope for a more inclusive future. While Gates indicated that he’s not exactly enthused, he told the Scouts’ national meeting that ”we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.” The Scouts will have to change either way, he said, and he’d rather it be of their own accord.
Maybe America’s not back on top. Finance officials have expressed optimism in recent months, but minutes from last month’s Federal Reserve meeting reflect serious doubts over the nation’s economic strength. Data from the first quarter revealing annualized growth of just 0.2 percent has apparently dampened excitement. At the meeting, “nays” outweighed “yays” for a June interest rate hike. And while Chair Janet Yellen maintains that the “appropriate” time for an increase may be this year, it’s looking less likely to happen before September.
They’re heading to sea. That’s the message from Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose country is launching active missions to help thousands of migrants drifting in the Andaman Sea. This reverses an earlier decision to help only those who reached shore, and caps weeks of towing beleaguered migrant boats — most filled with Rohingya Muslims — out of Malaysian waters. Razak and Indonesian leaders have agreed to shelter the needy if the international community helps with resettlement, drawing offers of assistance from America, the Philippines and Gambia.
Bin Laden remained focused on U.S. until the end. (BBC)
California declares emergency after oil pipeline rupture. (Washington Post)
U.N. prepares for Yemen peace talks in Geneva. (DW)
Suspect named in quadruple Washington, D.C., homicide. (USA Today)
Rand Paul ends quasi-filibuster of Patriot Act renewal. (NBC)
He had them laughing and crying to the very end. The late-night funnyman ended his 33-year run last night with trademark poise, self-effacing wit and a final Top 10 — delivered by fellow comedians like Tina Fey, Bill Murray and Chris Rock, listing “Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to Dave.” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, alongside Jerry Seinfeld, captured the light-hearted feel by thanking her host for including her in “another hugely disappointing series finale.” Letterman’s chair now sits empty until Stephen Colbert’s September 8 debut.
They’re the “secret sauce,” Jack Ma says. Women make up more than 34 percent of the Chinese tech giant’s senior management — compared to 23 percent at Facebook or 21 percent at Google — and their boss credits them with helping balance logic and instinct while adding a sense of care to the workplace. His comments, shared at Alibaba’s Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship, bode well for Chinese women, who make up 25 percent of entrepreneurs in the People’s Republic.
He’s taking the diplomatic approach to spreading hope. Randy Berry, the newly appointed special envoy for LGBT issues, is hitting the road to visit 15 countries in the coming weeks. He’ll tour Latin America and Asia before heading to the East African country known for violent homophobia. Uganda passed strict anti-gay laws last year, and though they were eventually struck down, the U.S. was criticized for its weak response. Berry’s goals for the Ugandan trip remain unclear, but he’s braving a stopover there in July.
They’ve seen the light. Scientists have revealed that some species of the eight-legged cephalopods can sense changes in brightness with their skin using the same light-sensitive proteins found in eyes. This allows octopuses — among the smartest and most mobile of marine creatures — to camouflage themselves by using pigmented organs all over their bodies called chromatophores without engaging their brains. Their light sensors aren’t as keen as eyesight, but react like a more dramatic version of what human skin does when it tans.
He’s still the king. LeBron James sank 31 points last night, with a red-hot J.R. Smith’s 28 points polishing the crown, to help Cleveland dismantle top-seeded Atlanta in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, 97-89. And to make a bad night worse, Atlanta’s leading playoff scorer DeMarre Carroll sprained his left knee in the fourth quarter, exiting in agonizing pain. Atlanta anxiously awaits Carroll’s MRI today — while Cleveland prays for another regal performance — ahead of tomorrow’s Game 2.