America can play referee all it likes, but he’s refusing to be red-carded. FIFA President Sepp Blatter is resisting calls for his resignation. He’s facing intense criticism following indictments by U.S. authorities of 14 officials from soccer’s governing body involving allegations of misdeeds to the tune of $150 million. Blatter held an emergency meeting today in Zurich, telling colleagues “I can’t monitor everyone all of the time.” Meanwhile, U.S. authorities are seeking extradition of the seven people arrested in Switzerland yesterday, and sponsors like Coca-Cola are considering whether to stay in the game.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Was he being blackmailed? The Republican former Speaker of the House, who’s been a lobbyist in D.C. since he retired from politics eight years ago, has been indicted by a grand jury. He’s charged with violating laws while making payments of about $1.7 million to an unidentified individual who apparently had information about Hastert’s “past misconduct” — and with lying to the FBI about those payments. It’s not clear what he was trying to cover up. The former speaker will be arraigned in the coming weeks.
Even reforms won’t stave off his referendum. Prime Minister David Cameron is on a whirlwind tour of Europe, attempting to talk other EU leaders into letting him reform the UK’s relationship with the bloc to stave off what many Britons see as widespread freeloading from Eastern Europeans on the UK’s relatively generous benefits system. It’s largely ceremonial: Treaty changes would likely require lengthy negotiations, but Cameron’s Conservatives are rushing a public referendum on whether the UK will stay in the EU at all, with a vote promised by 2017 — and a potential Brexit soon after.
It’s not what you’d call a care package. A Utah-based military facility accidentally shipped live anthrax samples — via FedEX — to nine U.S. labs and an American base in South Korea. The shipments were less secure because they were sent under the wrong protocol, prompting an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control. Officials say the public has nothing to worry about, and that four workers in the U.S. and 22 overseas who are undergoing treatment after coming into contact with the samples face “minimal” risk.
It’s the first Republican-run U.S. state to abolish capital punishment in over 40 years, and it involved legislators facing off with Gov. Pete Ricketts to narrowly override his veto. The 10 remaining death row inmates in the 19th state to ban executions will now see their sentences commuted to life in prison. And the decision — won by the smallest possible margin — has activists applauding the uneasy alliance between liberals and anti-execution conservatives for helping the U.S. turn “away from the death penalty.”
The conservative Christian and runner-up in 2012’s GOP primaries is back. Republicans often pick runners-up from previous election cycles as presidential nominees — John McCain and Mitt Romney — but the former senator isn’t generating much buzz yet. He threw his hat in the ring yesterday from his home state of Pennsylvania, noting that he’s ready to take on Hillary Clinton and defeat ISIS. But he’s entering a field already bursting with GOP candidates and will need more than a strong social-conservative streak to get ahead of the pack.
Germany’s the strong center of the European Union — but when it comes to travel rules meant to discourage terrorists, Deutschland is the weak link. Or so says the European Commission, which is suing Germany for failing to meet minimum requirements for airport passenger screenings and plane inspections. The hodgepodge of post-9/11 anti-terror regulations in Europe were replaced in 2008 with stricter standards, and now Germany will have to defend its practices in court — or just bring in more air marshals and X-ray machines.
Former Gov. George Pataki makes long-shot bid for White House. (CNN)
Avago talks Broadcom buyout, to tune of $35 billion. (WSJ) sub
Malaysia investigates 12 police officers over mass graves. (BBC)
U.S. official warns Europe against ‘brinkmanship’ with Greece before G7 summit. (DW)
France inducts four Resistance fighters into Pantheon. (France24)
FCC chief eyes plan to provide Internet to America’s poor. (NYT)
He wasn’t monkeying around. Steven Wise, an attorney and head of the Nonhuman Rights Project, implored a New York State Supreme Court judge yesterday to grant a writ of habeas corpus and the right to self-determination to two chimpanzees, comparing their confinement with slavery. Hercules and Leo, who live in captivity at a Stony Brook University lab, weren’t on hand to witness their passionate defender. But Justice Barbara Jaffe seemed fascinated by the unusual proceedings, and if she rules for the apes, they could soon be released to a Florida sanctuary.
They’re supposed to cut you off. But now two men have paid the price — one with his own life — for not knowing when to quit. Last October, Renaud Prudhomme died after downing 56 shots at a bar in central France. A court has convicted bartender Gilles Crepin of manslaughter, sentencing him to a suspended sentence of four months and banning him from working in bars for a year. Defense lawyers say Crepin is being forced to serve as an example — a decision they intend to appeal.
It’s a battle of the bands. The smaller wearable technology company is taking its rival to court, claiming that Fitbit pirated employees and used their knowledge “to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property.” It’s bad news for Fitbit, which is preparing for an upcoming IPO and facing allegations that it hired at least five former Jawboners and tried to poach about 30 percent of the company via recruiters. And it could help determine which of its competitors, vying for the number two spot, is really in the best shape.
Meet Australopithecus deyiremeda. Researchers have unearthed fossilized jaws and teeth belonging to a previously unknown ancestor that lived in northern Ethiopia 3.3 to 3.5 million years ago. They say the finds represent a species distinct from Australopithecus afarensis, aka Lucy, and speculate that both prehistoric humans — and possibly several other early hominids — lived side by side for a while. Anthropologists continue to dig for clues that might reveal which of these evolved into the Homo genus, forming the stem for modern humans’ family tree.
The wildly successful true crime podcast that helped win convicted murderer Adnan Syed new hope for an appeal is currently recording a second and third series, which producers say will focus on new but undisclosed stories. Creators Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder apologized for the mystery, noting that they can’t offer any details yet. Fans can catch the duo on tour this summer, but for details on upcoming stories, they’ll either have to search for their own clues or wait for season two to air this autumn.
Not since Gerald R. Ford was president. Behind a true team effort, Golden State beat Houston 104-90 yesterday to reach basketball’s biggest stage for the first time since 1975. Rockets star James Harden will try his best to forget last night’s 13 turnovers — a playoff record. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and company shook off a slow start to close out the series 3-1 at home, setting up a much-anticipated final series against LeBron James and the Cavs, which begins on June 4.