Times sure have changed. House Democrats dealt President Obama a staggering defeat, voting en masse against a proposed assistance program for workers displaced by free trade agreements. Though it doesn’t technically kill hopes for an overall trade authority package, it’s a huge public setback for the president who traveled back to DC on Friday to lobby his own party on the issue. Nancy Pelosi gave congressional Dems cover by announcing her opposition, leading to speculation that the final 19 months of Obama’s presidency could become a two front war.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The U.S. already spends more than $9 million a day to fight ISIS, and yesterday the House approved a $579 billion defense bill but rejected an amendment to limit further spending. That bodes well for Obama as he mulls expanding America’s military presence in Iraq, complete with new bases and hundreds of personnel to support local forces in their push against the militants. White House aides said yesterday that the commander in chief would consider establishing outposts for training while still stopping short of engaging in ground combat.
Authorities have arrested a female prison employee, Joyce Mitchell, for two felony charges, saying she provided help to two convicts who escaped New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility last Saturday. They say Mitchell brought forbidden objects into the jail, refusing to elaborate — presumably it was something that helped Richard W. Matt and David Sweat cut through steel plates inside their cells and escape — and say she’s cooperating with the investigation on the matter. As the manhunt for the escapees continues, investigators are looking into prison personnel to see if the pair had even more accomplices.
They’re finally sweeping it away. The straw poll has been a part of every election since 1979, but since George W. Bush’s election, it’s been bad at picking state winners —in 2011, Michele Bachmann took the poll but finished sixth in Iowa — and now it’s been canceled altogether due to low participation from candidates. This could signal an eventual end to Iowa’s importance in presidential races, which has been waning in recent years despite its long-held and long-cherished primary position.
The Internal Revenue Service announced today it is partnering with tax preparation and software firms such as Intuit to help prevent refund fraud. The move is part of broader policy change that aims to upgrade defense systems recently pillaged by hackers for personal information, including tax data of 100,000 U.S. citizens. The firms will flag fraudulent activity commonly connected to fraud, such as multiple usage of Internet service providers. The system is said to go live before the next Tax Day in 2016.
The former IMF Head has been acquitted in a Lille court, avoiding a possible prison sentence of 10 years for “aggravated pimping.” The charge, normally used in the prostituting of a minor in France, was applied to the alleged facilitation of orgies by the 66-year old. While paying for sex is legal under French law, instigating it is not. This ends four years of trouble for Strauss-Kahn, who first stepped down when he was arrested on a charge of assaulting a maid in a New York hotel room and with whom he eventually settled out of court.
He’s taking flight. Dick Costolo, having failed to woo a billion users as promised, announced his departure with a simple tweet: “Welcome back, Jack.” Now Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, current chief executive of mobile payments firm Square, will temporarily take the helm. Share prices soared 10 percent at the news but later relaxed, ending with a gain of under 3 percent. A new CEO search now begins — and while Snoop Dogg’s up for it, others speculate that the company is ripe for a buyout.
A Cleveland municipal judge has found probable cause to charge Officer Timothy Loehmann with murder over the death of Tamir Rice. In November, police responded to a call about the 12-year-old playing outdoors with what proved to be a pellet gun. Rice was shot twice within two seconds of the officers arriving. Judge Ronald Adrine says evidence also supports charges of negligent homicide against Loehmann’s partner, Frank Garmback. Neither officer has been charged: While Adrine’s opinion was applauded by many, the ultimate decision lies with a grand jury.
They’re fed up. Christine Lagarde and her colleagues have pulled out of talks in Brussels, citing “no progress” in meetings with Greek leaders over commitments to economic reforms in exchange for a $8.1 billion bailout. If Prime Minister Alex Tsipras doesn’t “stop gambling” and secure the funds, the EU warns, Greece will default. The IMF’s loss of faith could shake Germany’s resolve to make a deal, and European markets have plummeted accordingly, with Greece’s stock exchange closing 6 percent down — but Angela Merkel is still preaching optimism on the prospect of Greek default.
Did Australia pay migrant boat to turn back toward Indonesia? (BBC)
Rupert Murdoch steps down at Fox, son James ascends again. (NYT)
WHO spreads calm, says no need to curb travel for MERS. (Al Jazeera)
Pakistan shuts Save the Children charity in Islamabad. (The Guardian)
Germanwings co-pilot may have feared for his eyesight. (USA Today)
There is something new under the sun after all. A French company has designed a bikini with better judgment than the average vacationer when it comes to knowing when to cover up. The Connected Bikini has a waterproof sensor that clasps to the suit and keeps track of hot summer temperatures and UV readings to tell you when to slather on more sunscreen or seek shelter. The suits, which send updates to smartphones, retail for around $167 and will start hitting the sand this week.
If you thought it was all work and no play, think again. The rideshare service is hoping to hone navigation skills with an ioS game called UberDrive — a MarioKart for the 1099 economy — that lets players pick up passengers and earn points for the most efficient routes to their destinations. The app is meant to help driver-partners improve their city knowledge and directional expertise while wooing new recruits. So far players can only maneuver through San Francisco, but additional city maps are just down the road.
What a howling shame. In 2013, the largest U.S. state had 221 Alexander Archipelago wolves. Today there are only around 60, new data shows, and environmentalists warn that drastic steps are needed to save the species. It’s still legal to hunt these wolves — half the deaths are attributed to hunting — but they’re also competing with hunters for a decreasing supply of Sitka black-tailed deer. If food supplies aren’t regulated and habitat destruction halted, activists say, we could soon be down to a lone wolf.
It’s no joke. All of the legendary Late Night host’s video clips have disappeared from the Internet, scrubbed from his official YouTube page and the CBS website. Now that the funnyman’s retired — his last show aired on May 20 — the network no longer owns the show’s digital rights. Those revert to Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants, and there’s no word on what he plans to do with them. Fans in search of a punchline may have to wait for the arrival of new host Stephen Colbert in September.
After three subpar performances, Golden State hit their stride in Game 4 last night, blowing out Cleveland 103-82. Scarier than the score was LeBron James falling headfirst into a cameraman, suffering a laceration that required stitches. He returned but couldn’t match previous superhuman performances. MVP Stephen Curry found his stroke, though, and he and guard Andre Iguodala each netted 22 points. Sunday’s Game 5 in Oakland will be critical: Teams that go up 3-2 in the NBA Finals have won the championship 81 percent of the time.