President Obama will greet the gritty German chancellor at the White House on Monday. The leaders are expected to discuss how to get Europe’s economy purring and stop Russia’s hungry bear from growling. Merkel’s trip follows visits this week to both Kiev and Moscow, where she took on a tough Putin in a bid to secure a Ukrainian ceasefire. A warmer reception awaits at the Oval Office, where the Western leaders will also focus on Germany’s plans for hosting the G-7 this June.
The Presidential Daily Brief
ISIS’s immolation of a Jordanian pilot has his countrymen screaming for blood. The Hashemite Kingdom’s warplanes mounted their first attacks against the militants in Iraq and stepped up bombardments in Syria. “Burning is an abominable crime,” declared one Saudi cleric, and “only God tortures by fire.” ISIS responded, saying the method squares with holy texts by clerics it didn’t name. They then claimed a U.S. woman they were holding hostage was killed in the strikes. Jordanian officials, albeit skeptical, are investigating, and Kayla Mueller’s family is imploring ISIS to contact them.
Falling prices are just the beginning. They’re an indicator of Europe’s weak economy and helping spread deflation around the globe, which is holding down U.S. consumer prices. But perhaps the biggest import is falling mortgage rates that are approaching historic lows as foreigners escape troubles at home and buy U.S. treasury bonds, which drives down interest rates. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that while the U.S. economy had entered a “self-sustaining” recovery, others can’t depend on the U.S. to be the “sole engine of growth.”
Europe is wary of Greeks seeking gifts. The new Hellenic government promised to ditch austerity measures linked to its EU bailout, but that rhetoric is proving painful. As Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras barnstormed to kick-start debt renegotiations, those holding the keys to the vault crossed their arms. No temporary debt relief for you, they said, if Greece dismantles austerity with massive public handouts. But Europe can’t afford to lose one of its own, so once Tsipras stops ruffling feathers, compromise should prevail.
Poroshenko says Ukraine is ready for ‘unconditional ceasefire.’ (DW)
Nigeria postpones presidential vote by several weeks. (BBC)
Australian PM calls for leadership vote tomorrow, not Tuesday. (The Guardian)
Brian Williams steps down temporarily from ‘Nightly News’ amid controversy. (USA Today)
Police hunt suspect following mall shooting outside Pittsburgh. (ABC)
Olympian Bruce Jenner involved in fatal car crash. (CNN)
He’s something old and something new. Jeb Bush has launched a presidential campaign nearly a year before the first 2016 primary. He refers to himself as “bicultural” but used his first stump speech in Detroit to assail the “liberal mindset” in governance. Will Republicans let Bush have it both ways? So far, so good. He outpolls fellow GOP hopefuls against Hillary Clinton in two big swing states, Ohio and his own Florida.
Measles is on the rise, with at least 100 cases in 14 U.S. states this year, and psychology seems to have a lot to do with it. Disease clusters bloom in counties that offer vaccination opt-out provisions based on personal or philosophical beliefs, and the rate of exemptions jumped 30 percent from 2010 to 2012. Pediatricians try to convince refuseniks to vaccinate their kids, but one expert says they lack the strategy and data to succeed. If doctors could just get into parents’ heads and win their hearts, measles could once again be history.
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, a 57-year-old zoologist with a fondness for black fedoras, has enjoyed more than a few lucky breaks in his path from poor canoe-maker’s son to leader of Africa’s most populous nation. But with inequality growing, oil revenue falling and Boko Haram’s violent insurgency terrorizing the nation, Jonathan’s run of good fortune may be coming to an end. We’ll find out when Nigerians head to the polls in seven weeks.
They’ll probably come home faster now. Some farmers are taking cow happiness to a new level with heavy-duty water mattresses. A Wisconsin-based company has sold thousands of these beds worldwide, inviting heifers to gently kneel into a good night’s sleep. A new study suggests the beds greatly reduce debilitating leg sores. But their biggest selling point, according to the firm, is that a comfy cow is inclined to produce more milk.
He’s kicked off a super debate. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady now owns four Super Bowl records to accompany his four championship rings. Few would deny his greatness, but his place in the pigskin pantheon is still being calibrated. Luck has played a major role for and against the 2000 NFL draft’s 199th pick, while “Deflategate” has added fuel to the critics’ fire. But there’s one key figure who insists the question is far from settled: Brady himself says he’s still “got a lot of football left.”