Earlier reports said Najim Laachraoui, a suspect in yesterday’s attacks, had been detained. But officials now say the manhunt continues, and some reports indicate Laachraoui joined brothers Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui in carrying out yesterday’s suicide bombings. Meanwhile, flowers are piling up in European squares, and Belgium is observing three days of mourning following yesterday’s ISIS-claimed bombings at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek station that killed 31. Today Salah Abdeslam, the Paris attacks suspect, is set to appear before a Brussels court, and the U.S. State Department is warning Americans of the “potential risks” of European travel.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Who’s counting anyway? The front-runners ran away with huge leads in the Grand Canyon State, but Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz — who Jeb Bush just endorsed — nabbed Utah, and Idaho also felt the Bern. It’s still a long road to the July conventions, but OZY’s Nick Fouriezos says the race just took on a more urgent tone in the wake of yesterday’s terror attacks in Brussels. Cruz suggested that U.S. police should patrol Muslim neighborhoods “before they become radicalized,” and Trump said that torturing a Paris attacks suspect would’ve prevented Tuesday’s tragedy.
They’re cracking down. On Wednesday the U.S. government announced that it’s arrested more than 8,000 people considered violent fugitives, in cities from Baltimore to Fresno. Gang members, suspected sex offenders and nearly 600 people wanted for murder were swept up in Operation Violent Reduction 12, which took place over six weeks and is part of an ongoing federal effort to bring down violent crime rates. Now officials say they’re hopeful that by getting “the worst of the worst” into the criminal justice system, America’s streets will be safer.
He shared his message of hope. “I believe in the Cuban people,” the president said, appealing to the younger generation to build a great nation that can be a partner to the United States. Speaking from Havana yesterday, Obama embraced the opening of diplomatic relations while tackling tough issues like human rights and differences between the countries’ political and economic systems. He welcomed an open dialogue, extending a “hand of friendship” to the island while noting that America also faces challenges … and that democracy helps it improve.
They didn’t run for cover. Investors seemed to endure yesterday’s attacks in stride. Stocks opened just a tad lower, with many climbing above break-even before ending mixed on Tuesday — a pattern repeated in global markets. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 dropped 0.2 and 0.1 percent respectively while the Nasdaq gained 0.3 percent. But travel-related shares did suffer, and the cautious approach saw the five-week global share rally lose momentum yesterday, with Asian markets like Japan’s Nikkei and China’s Shanghai Composite opening slightly down today.
Obamas head to Argentina with beefed up security. (USA Today)
Trudeau pushes Canadian budget deficits to boost government spending. (CBC)
EU-Turkey plan prompts aid agencies to pull out of Greek hot spots. (Al Jazeera)
Pentagon: U.S. airstrike kills dozens in Yemen. (The Guardian)
Credit Suisse plans further cuts. (WSJ) sub
Hundreds of flights canceled over Denver blizzard. (Denver Post)
A Tribe Called Quest co-founder Phife Dawg dies at 45. (E! Online)
They want to help. A grassroots response to Europe’s migrant crisis is underway, with apps like Alarm Phone, which transmits distress calls from boats trying to get to the Continent, saving lives. Other tech startups are fundraising, crowdsourcing phrase books, and using software to pair migrants with people who are willing to host them. While they may not have the broad impact and change-making potential of Doctors Without Borders, these small efforts are making a real difference in the uncertain lives of hundreds of thousands of Europe’s new refugees.
They’re brewing up a charitable plan. The Seattle-based caffeine peddler plans to give 100 percent of the surplus food from its 7,600 U.S. stores to food banks. The java joints have been giving away their uneaten pastries since 2010, but they’re now adding perishable food to the list, using refrigerated vans to deliver the handouts from franchises to donation centers. By partnering with Feeding America and Food Donation Connection, Starbucks expects to give away about 5 million meals in its first year and up to 50 million by 2021.
It’s in hot water. Large portions of the world’s biggest coral reef — roughly 90 to 100 percent — are turning bone white due to a bleaching event caused by warm water. Higher temperatures are making the reef reject algae called zooxanthellae, which provide food for the coral and lend it color. The reef hasn’t died, but continued exposure to warmer waters increases the risk. Scientists say the water needs to cool and allow the coral to recover — and they’re hopeful for a reprieve with the colder wet season approaching.
Are you holding out for a hero? A big opening weekend is guaranteed as this comic showdown drops into cinemas worldwide on Friday. Fans are expected to help Dawn of Justice compete for the all-time global box office opening record — currently held by the latest Fast and Furious film — with experts estimating it’ll rake in $300 million worldwide. But early reviews say that while the action’s impressive, the storyline is not … and it will likely need a heroic effort to hit its $1 billion overall target.
Can they strike up a friendship? President Obama and Raúl Castro cheered from the stands as the two teams squared off yesterday in Havana — a sporting signal that Cold War hostilities are quickly fading. There was plenty of tension on the diamond though, where the Rays prevailed 4-1. As a testament to goodwill, both leaders participated in “the wave” through the crowd, but not everyone was cheering: A few dissidents interrupted the broadcast and were carted off, reminding us all that work remains to be done off the field.