The nation cheered this week as the NBA handed the L.A. Clippers owner a lifetime ban and fine in response to racist comments. But Sterling’s determination to retain ownership of the franchise angered many, prompting owners of other basketball teams to join forces. The group is attempting to oust Sterling, according to an NBA executive, and celebrities like Oprah Winfrey are reportedly gearing up for a chance to become owners of the team. Meanwhile, questions are being asked over why earlier discrimination allegations against Sterling weren’t investigated sooner.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Representatives of six world powers will meet in Brussels next week for technical talks on the Iranian nuclear negotiations, scheduled to take place in Vienna in late May. Following November’s nuclear deal, talks between Iran and the P5+1 — the U.S., Germany, Russia, China, Britain and France — have advanced a bit but made no major progress. With the July deadline for an agreement looming, talks are entering their critical period. Israel remains vehemently opposed to a deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu overtly comparing the nuclear deal to the appeasement of Nazi Germany.
The botched execution of Clayton Lockett, widely described as cruel and unusual, has prompted questions about the provenance and administration of lethal injections. Although the media initially blamed a new cocktail of drugs, it now appears that Lockett’s eventual heart attack was the result of medical error. The needle used to inject the first of three drugs became dislodged, causing a collapsed vein that went unnoticed for 21 minutes. Support for the death penalty has fallen from 80 percent in 1994 to 60 percent last year, attributed in part to high-profile failures like this one.
Many fear that genocide is imminent. “Desperate is an understatement,” according to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has openly compared CAR’s situation with Rwanda just before its genocide 20 years ago. Lynching has become so common that corpses litter the streets in the capital, Bangui. Thousands of Muslims have fled or been evacuated, reflecting what another U.N. official describes as a “collective failure of the international community.” African Union peacekeepers and French troops are struggling to contain violence between Christians and Muslims; 1,000 EU peacekeepers will join the effort in coming weeks.
Fire in south-west Ukraine kills at least 31. (BBC).
Obama and Merkel show division over surveillance but unity on Ukraine. (NYT).
Hundreds feared dead and thousands missing after Afghan landslide. (Al Jazeera).
MERS virus makes first appearance in U.S. (CNN).
Samsung ordered to pay Apple $120 million for patents infringement. (LA Times).
Kareem Serageldin has the ignoble distinction of being the only banker on Wall Street to be jailed for his part in the financial crisis, but why weren’t there more? The answer may lie in the Justice Department itself, which, after a series of white-collar prosecution fiascoes, began to focus on reaching settlements rather than chasing prison time. Federal prosecutors are reportedly nearing criminal charges against two of the world’s largest banks — Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas — for alleged tax evasion and violation of sanctions, respectively. But even if guilty pleas are submitted, the probability of offending individuals winding up behind bars is small.
Tired of folks droning on about selfies? Self-portrait shots are so yesterday in the modern world of high-flying cameras. Rather than snapping themselves near their favorite celebrities or politicians, tech junkies are turning to camera-equipped drones to produce self-directed, 10-second videos that capture both subject and surroundings. A New York Times writer coined the term “dronie” in April, and shops are gearing up to offer drone camera rentals to those who want to get in on the trend without shelling out for expensive equipment. Not sure where to find dronies? Look out for YouDrone, set to launch this summer.
Historically diseases could only spread as fast as a man could walk, but today they can get anywhere in the world within 24 hours. Larry Brilliant, who led the South Asian WHO team that eradicated smallpox, is leading the effort to contain future epidemics. He aims to locate potential outbreaks around the world using digital disease-surveillance techniques that draw on diverse sources of information, including Google searches, satellite images of hospital car parks and even cinema attendance. Modern technology allows diseases to move at the speed of a Boeing 747, but it also ensures that information can move much faster.
Over a five-decade journalistic career, in which she produced more than 8,000 articles, Mary McGrory broke every rule in the book. She was passionately partisan, dated Jack Kennedy, scolded Bobby Kennedy and rejected Lyndon Johnson, remaining a startlingly brilliant political commentator throughout. While she drank and partied with Democrats, McGrory earned a prominent place on Nixon’s infamous “enemies list” and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for her coverage of Watergate. Nor did she mellow with age; at 83 she harshly criticized President Bush over 9/11 and defiantly responded to every ensuing piece of angry mail she received.
It’s been 10 years since Tina Fey’s Mean Girls hit the big screen, just weeks after Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his college dorm. Thanks to this quirk of timing, the movie has been woven into the fabric of social media, spawning its own dialect of webspeak. In the last month alone, Tumblr users have created 10,000 posts and 477,000 notes referencing Mean Girls. The creators and cast say they never predicted the movie’s success, because who could have foreseen the seismic cultural shifts prompted by social media? It’s like they had ESPN or something.
Houston’s Rick Smith, holder of the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, mysteriously says the Texans may trade the pick away. Most pundits call his bluff, predicting Houston will draft hulking defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The biggest question: Where will quarterback Teddy Bridgewater go? Some consider him the best overall prospect, but others worry his small stature and lackluster audition will knock him out of the first round altogether. It’s not all bad news for Teddy, though: He has a $5 million insurance policy that kicks in if he isn’t drafted in the top 10.