The president picked a familiar face. Obama named today the Secret Service’s acting director and former head of his security detail, Joseph Clancy, as its new permanent chief. Critics immediately panned the choice as a missed opportunity to clean a troubled house. Clancy, 59, faces a busy season ahead while trying to transform an outfit plagued by embarrassing security lapses and prostitution scandals. The White House fence still isn’t fortified, many officers are overworked and undertrained, and a papal visit and the 2016 elections loom.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Fighting extremism isn’t about religion, says Obama. He’s calling for community leaders and law enforcement to work together to combat the threat presented by groups like ISIS, which has recruited from the West. The White House is hosting a high-profile summit on extremism this week, including community leaders who have found local solutions. Critics fear that encouraging the police to work with local groups could lead to overstepping boundaries, and violating people’s rights and privacy. Others ask, do we have a choice?
You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your politics. The GOP’s presumed presidential frontrunner laid out today a vision of American foreign policy by contrasting himself not only with President Obama, but his brother and father as well. Speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Bush admitted that his brother made mistakes in Iraq, but reserved his harshest criticisms for Obama’s failings abroad. The shaky, error-filled speech isn’t winning over skeptics, however. It remains to be seen if he can truly escape the long shadow of the Bush dynasty.
Even the president of Mexico has condemned it. Police in Pasco, Wash., fatally shot unarmed Antonio Zambrano-Montes, who had been throwing rocks into traffic. Last week’s incident was captured on video — showing Zambrano-Montes running away, holding up his hands as the shots were fired — and has been seen 1.6 million times on YouTube. Now a Pasco Latino group is asking the Justice Department to investigate, and protesters are calling for reform in the majority-Hispanic city with a mostly white government.
They were surrounded. Ukrainian troops took fire from pro-Russian rebels even as they retreated from the key railway junction of Debaltseve — and in spite of a truce that began Sunday. Though Russia’s Putin denies providing rebels with soldiers and weapons, he’s calling their captured territory “New Russia.” Germany, which helped broker the truce, called the development a “massive violation,” perhaps cuing a new round of sanctions for Moscow as Washington mulls military aid for Kiev.
Athens blinked. As soon as today, the government of President Alexis Tsipras plans to ask eurozone creditors to extend bailout borrowing for up to six months after Greece’s current agreement expires this month. But Greek officials were quick to differentiate the new aid package from the existing $274 billion program, which calls for unpopular austerity measures. The deal gives Greece leeway in adopting reforms, but most importantly it avoids instability, prompting investors to celebrate by lifting European stocks to a seven-year high.
The brutality never stops. Horrific reports from the recently fallen town of al-Baghdadi say militants have immolated 45 captives, possibly members of security forces. A residential compound for security officers’ families is also reportedly under siege. Meanwhile, stoking the militants’ reputation, Iraq’s U.N. ambassador says shallow graves yielded bodies with organs surgically removed, possibly indicating a grisly new ISIS fund-raising scheme. As the terror increases, it seems little stands in their way, as tattered Iraqi and now Libyan governments appear destined for defeat.
There’s a catch. While the president insists that “the law … and history are on our side,” he’s had to halt his immigration policy overhaul. The delay comes just one day before some undocumented immigrants, including those with children who have legal residence, could have applied for work permits and legal protections. A federal judge in Texas issued an injunction on the new policy Monday, saying it would be burdensome to individual states. The next step is an appeal, which the chief executive says is forthcoming.
Federal Reserve officials worry about raising rates too soon. (Reuters)
Explosion at Exxon Mobile refinery was equivalent of magnitude 1.7 earthquake. (LA Times)
Afghan war’s civilian deaths highest in five years. (Reuters)
Bosnian police arrest suspected ISIS supporters. (NYT)
Astronomers say star had prehistoric close call with Earth. (NBC)
Swiss probe HSBC for suspected money laundering. (USA Today)
Oh, the things you’ll publish when you’re dead. Random House is releasing a new book in July from the punning king of nonsense rhymes based on works discovered by his wife during a home remodel. Theodor Geisel likely wrote What Pet Should I Get?, which features the siblings from 1960’s One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, between 1958 and 1962. Random House promises two more posthumous publications, giving the good doctor something of a second life.
Spidey just lost an epic battle. Scientists now say the teeth of tiny limpets are the strongest known biological material on the planet, exceeding the legendary strength of spider silk by 10 percent. Dining on algae stuck to rocks, the limpet uses hundreds of teeth strengthened by composite goethite and chitin fibers that are thinner than man-made nanofibers and so strong a strand could hoist 3,300 pounds. The discovery could lead to an artificial material to strengthen cars, planes and — fittingly — false teeth.
So this isn’t weird: A man approaches a mom in a supermarket and furtively asks for her breast milk. Others place want ads for the white stuff. Some are fetishists wanting it on tap, but others are bodybuilders hoping the maternal goodness will help them build rock-solid bulk. Fit-freaks take notice, though: the FDA warns it might transfer deadly pathogens, and experts say cow’s milk is just as muscle-friendly. It’s also cheaper than human milk’s $10 an ounce price tag.
She didn’t need to hound the judges. A quiet but regal Canadian beagle became America’s top dog Tuesday by besting 2,700 competitors, including a finalist cousin of White House puppy Sunny. Miss P is only the second beagle to take Best in Show, and the grandniece of Uno, who in 2008 was the first to win. Now Miss P can do the TV circuit — or maybe a walk-on part in a Broadway musical — before scratching out a lucrative retirement making puppies.
Side effects may include four years in federal prison. Anthony Bosch, owner of Miami’s Biogenesis of America clinic, is feeling those effects right now, after Tuesday’s sentencing. His crimes include destroying America’s faith in its baseball heroes, such as Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez — who delivered a hand-written apology to Yankees fans after his yearlong suspension. What’s worse? Bosch helped juice a few high schoolers blinded by ambition. The U.S. District Court judge called him “the most culpable in this conspiracy,” but some New Yorkers beg to differ.
It’s here to stay. The momentary messaging service is reportedly seeking $500 million in new funding that could boost its valuation to an eye-popping $19 billion. That puts it behind only ride-sharing app Uber and Chinese phone maker Xiaomi among the world’s most valuable venture-backed firms. Advertisers covet its huge, youthful audience, reportedly approaching 200 million monthly users. Snapchat is also morphing into a publishing powerhouse with a new platform for short-form content and exclusive video. This is no passing fancy.