Jan Brewer has preserved Arizona’s Super Bowl host status and reputation by shooting down a controversial bill aimed at giving business owners the right to refuse service to gay people based on religious beliefs. The bill had sparked outrage among the gay community, sporting officials and business leaders. Delta Airlines and Apple were among firms publicly opposed to the bill, both stating they would consider relocating if necessary. It was also rumored that the NFL had considered moving the 2015 Super Bowl. Brewer, it seems, has made a game-saving play in more ways than one.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Dozens of armed men stormed government buildings in the Crimea today and raised a Russian flag over them. This follows fist fights in the southern Ukrainian peninsula yesterday between supporters of the interim leadership and those favoring a stronger alliance with Russia. In Kiev, leaders appointed an interim cabinet to help steer the country through its political transition and economic troubles, and Ukrainians have been told to brace for hardship as they prepare to steady the country’s sinking economic ship. But those in the Crimea will have more than economic uncertainty on their minds today.
The European Parliament has passed legislation affecting 90 percent of tobacco products in a bid to get EU citizens to cut back, including a ban on advertising E-cigarettes. The law, to take effect in 2016, also calls for large, graphic warning labels on packets and the phasing out of menthol cigarettes by 2020. These tough new rules are part of a revamp of European tobacco laws, which industry lobbyists had worked hard to prevent. EU governments are expected to vote on whether to approve the reforms next month.
The U.S. space agency’s Kepler mission has discovered 715 new exoplanets — planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system. The find boosts the total count of known exoplanets by about 70 percent, and it’s giving scientists more hope for finding potentially habitable worlds elsewhere. Four of the planets are twice the size of Earth and orbit their star’s “habitable zone.” Those looking for a brave new world cannot escape to them any time soon — the light seen by the Kepler telescope was emitted 1,000 years ago.
Syrian rebels reportedly killed 150 al Qaeda-linked rebels. (LA Times).
Obama to seek record funding for new doctors. (USA Today).
Two missing after submarine accident off Indian coast. (CNN).
Qantas Airlines to cut 5,000 jobs. (BBC).
‘Cuban Five’ intelligence agent to be freed. (CNN).
It looks like oppressive pollutants haven’t yet choked off the Chinese sense of humor. A student at the capital’s Peking University accessorized campus statues with face masks to protect them from the smog. The prank clearly hit a national nerve, and Internet users have been turning to China’s social networking site, Sina Weibo, to vent their frustrations through humor. One widely shared image depicts Mao Zedong in a face mask, and another viral joke lampoons President Xi Jinping’s exhortation to “make socialist core values as pervasive as the air” by quipping: “Also as toxic?”
Men in the U.S. are getting out of the office more than women, a new study reveals. While working remotely is often viewed as a way for women to balance the demands of family life with getting back into the workplace, 36 percent of men are taking advantage of employers’ flexibility, compared with just 23 percent of women. Experts attribute the gender disparity to a number of factors, one being that many women may avoid working from home for fear of being seen to have chosen kids over their careers. Of course, with more men staying home, women may simply feel the need to get out of the house.
A mass grave of whales discovered in Chile’s Atacama Desert is making waves in the fossil world. In what is being hailed as an “incredibly dense accumulation of species,” the fossils include several layers of whale skeletons and other marine life that piled up between six and nine million years ago. So far, eager paleontologists have unearthed long-extinct creatures such as walrus whales — dolphins with walrus-like faces — and even “bizarre aquatic sloths.” And researchers say that’s just the tip of the graveyard, with hundreds more ancient species awaiting discovery.
On Friday the White House will host its first-ever Student Film Festival showcasing short films about technology created by K-12 students. The event will also feature the launch of Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, a science-themed documentary series produced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, and inspired by the hit 1980 Carl Sagan series. President Obama says his goal is to transform education in the U.S. by connecting 99 percent of students to broadband and wireless technology within five years.
Some 335 college football players ran, jumped and punted their way through a series of mental and physical tests before scouts and coaches at this year’s NFL combine. Highlights included Jadeveon Clowney’s jaw-dropping 4.53-second, 40-yard dash, and the media circus following Michael Sam, the first openly gay prospective NFL player. Everyone’s excited about what is likely to be one of the most competitive drafts in 30 years. But it is looking increasingly likely that the supersonic Clowney will be snapped up as No. 1 draft pick by the Houston Texans.