Believe in me. That’s the message from interim President Michel Temer, who took the helm yesterday after Dilma Rousseff was suspended to face impeachment proceedings. Calling the Senate’s vote a “coup,” Rousseff’s vowing to fight charges of budgetary corruption. But her successor has hit the ground running, encouraging Brazilians to trust him to get the economy back on track. So far, Temer’s cabinet picks are buoying investors. But he faces the daunting task of getting legislators to support painful economic reforms to get the job done.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’ve decided it’s the way to go. The Obama administration is demanding that public schools allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, threatening lawsuits and federal funding cuts for noncompliance. Signed by officials from the departments of Education and Justice, the letter warns that denying transgender students access to the facilities of their choice constitutes sex discrimination under Title IX. The move, which coincides with an Obamacare ruling protecting transgender patients from discrimination, nationalizes the DOJ’s ongoing legal dispute with North Carolina and is already drawing fire from Congressional Republicans.
Is it a healthy disagreement? A federal court has sided with House Republicans’ challenge to the 2010 health law. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said Obama’s program to help low-income people reduce out-of-pocket expenses was illegal because Congress didn’t specifically authorize the subsidy money, estimated at $130 billion over 10 years. The administration contends it followed the law, and that this challenge will fall like the others. Collyer, a George W. Bush appointee, has put the ruling on hold pending the administration’s appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court.
Time for Uber to buckle up. Its main rival in China, Didi Chuxing (formerly Didi Kuaidi), has just caught a lift from the Cupertino-based computing giant. This is one of the iPhone maker’s biggest-ever investments and its first foray into on-demand transport. By investing in the growing app — Didi recently hailed a feat of 10 million rides per day — Apple is strategically aligning itself with the rising startup in hopes of expanding its market share in China, where sales have recently slumped.
Pfizer will no longer allow its drugs to be used for lethal injections. (NYT)
Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine killed in Syria. (Al Jazeera)
Russia cyber attacked German state computers, according to German intelligence agency. (BBC)
Bayer explores $40 billion Monsanto bid. (FT) sub
Former Russian official says doping fueled Olympic golds. (NYT)
EU anti-people-smuggling operation is ‘failing.’ (BBC)
Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz. (OZY)
He’s gunning for profits. The man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012 — and was acquitted under Florida’s “stand your ground” law — tried to sell his 9 mm pistol on a gun auction site yesterday. Advertising it as a “piece of American history,” Zimmerman vowed to use proceeds to oppose #Blacklivesmatter, Florida prosecutor Angela Corey, and Hillary Clinton. The site pulled the listing, but it’s now on a less discriminating auction site, where the price has shot up past $65 million — thanks to internet trolls posting under names like ”Racist McShootface.”
Women in sports just scored a goal. Senegal’s Fatma Samoura, a seasoned diplomat for the U.N., has been appointed the chief executive of FIFA. The organization, still reeling from scandals that saw many top executives stripped of their posts last year, has been totally revamped, with a secretary general at the helm. That’ll be Samoura, the first woman to hold a top position in the organization, who FIFA President Gianni Infantino describes as “a fresh wind.” If she passes eligibility checks, Samoura should start serving in the job next month.
This sent a helluva message. As Yoweri Museveni prepared to begin his fifth term as president yesterday, authorities barred celebratory microblogging — and derision — by blocking Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, as they did during February’s elections, presumably to quiet dissent. Citizens couldn’t post about opposition politicians and journalists being arrested, or that one honored inauguration guest was Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, sought by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges. But many Ugandans used VPNs to skirt the ban, tweeting that Museveni might get more “likes” by stepping down.
Business has gone sour. With candy-makers eager to label products “non-GMO,” the sugar beet industry — which provides about half of America’s sweet stuff — is taking a beating. Nearly all U.S. growers had switched to genetically modified plants that could withstand Roundup weed-killer, not anticipating the new labeling craze that’s prompting Hershey’s and others to phase in sugar-cane-only treats. Farmers say returning to non-GMO seeds would take time and force them to use a chemical cocktail that’s worse for the environment.
It’s all true. The three-headed pit bulls? They’re running around town eating children, while secret police are stealing the limelight. When Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor created popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale they wanted to do something different. A fictional radio broadcast about life in a town where extraterrestrials are as ordinary as froyo and all conspiracies are taken at face value seemed to fit the bill. It takes a while to make sense of where the story’s going, but once you see the pattern, you might start believing.
Will he be spurred into retirement? One of the greatest big men in NBA history was noncommittal about his future after Oklahoma City eliminated San Antonio from the playoffs. Duncan, 40, scored 19 points yesterday, despite struggling in the playoffs. With five championships under his belt, the 15-time All-Star is one of only three players to spend 19 seasons with the same team. The Thunder’s reward for netting an easy 113-99 win is a Western Conference finals matchup with record-smashing Golden State, starting Monday.