They’re making up for lost time. America and Cuba held high-level talks late yesterday for the first time in more than 50 years. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez sat down for discussions in Panama ahead of the Summit of the Americas. The move coincided with a State Department recommendation to remove Cuba from a list of nations that sponsor terrorism. These diplomatic efforts precede Obama’s upcoming meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro and could pave the way to a re-opening of embassies.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The coalition may never materialize. Though Saudi Arabia has been attempting to build a united Sunni front to help the crumbling government of Yemen fight off Iran-backed Houthi rebels, Pakistan threw a wrench in their plan by voting unanimously to not join the campaign. Pakistan might not have been much help militarily, but it’s a symbolic blow. The UAE’s foreign minister tweeted that Pakistan had better watch itself when it comes to embarrassing its allies in the Gulf, and some see this as Pakistan siding with Iran in the growing conflict.
The video gave them away. Ten sheriff’s deputies in San Bernadino County were caught on tape Thursday afternoon as they kicked and punched 30-year-old suspect Francis Pusok after he led them on a three-hour chase, some of it on horseback. Today, Sheriff John McMahon placed them all on leave, while explaining that Pusok may be an identify thief and had “shot a puppy.” Pusok’s mother wants the deputies fired, and the sheriff admits that the case is “disturbing” and will be investigated further.
The ink is far from dry. Tehran has thrown up roadblocks to Obama’s efforts for a nuclear deal, with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying he won’t sign on the dotted red line without a simultaneous lifting of sanctions. He declared that foreign inspectors wouldn’t be allowed access to military sites, which would be key to enforcing any nuclear pact. And he warned Saudi Arabia to stop interfering in Yemen. Some say it’s just rhetoric to appease hardliners, but it could mean Khamenei has no intention of ever reaching for his pen.
Authorities in South Carolina have released a video taken from officer Michael T. Slager’s dashboard camera, showing his initial interaction with Walter L. Scott in what looks like a routine traffic stop. Slager requests Scott’s license and registration before returning to the patrol car to check on documentation. Scott opens his door and flees on foot. While the footage shows us why Slager gave chase, it sheds no light on why he fired, and it’s unlikely to help him when he faces murder charges in August.
Say “No!” to mediocrity. That’s the message from IMF chief Christine Lagarde, who says to prepare yourselves for low growth, high debt and fewer jobs unless nations take action today. New data shows markets like China and South Korea, between developed and developing, are in their biggest slump since 2009. Economists say the current slowdown, fueled by a strong dollar and collapsing oil, differs from the last one that saw emerging markets recover quickly from such external stimuli. This time, internal factors are cementing what could end up being a mediocre “new normal.”
They’re gone too soon. A deadly collision between a bus and a lorry resulted in the death of at least 31 people, most of whom are believed to have been young athletes between the ages of 8 and 14. Nine others were injured in the crash, which involved a petro tank that created a “horrible explosion” in the rural city of Tan-Tan. Road accidents have surged in Morocco in recent years, a statistic the government blames on the rapidly rising number of citizens with access to motor vehicles.
They let him go. A Pakistani court freed the man believed to have masterminded the 2008 shooting deaths of 166 Indian civilians in a terror attack. Citing insufficient evidence, a judge released Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. So far, the Pakistani government has failed to convict a single person connected to the Mumbai attack. Lakhvi reportedly enjoyed a comfortable stay in prison, including access to a mobile phone, television and managing to father a child. India’s government will now try to arrange extradition of Lakhvi, but tension between the two countries remains high.
U.N. Chief: Act now to stop impending Syrian camp massacre. (DW)
Tornadoes rip through American Midwest, killing one. (CNN)
GE close to selling off $30 billion in real-estate holdings. (WSJ) sub
Australian cricket legend Richie Benaud dies. (BBC)
Deutsche Bank faces $1.5 billion-plus rate manipulation fine. (FT) sub
He’s investing in the future. Carlos Watson sat down yesterday with Fusion’s Alicia Menendez and threw down the gauntlet: “We’re looking for the next Albert Einstein,” he said, celebrating OZY’s first-ever Genius Awards. Ten prizes of up to $10,000 are up for grabs to fuel undergraduate students’ dreams for a summer. Whether it’s writing a book like Harper Lee or launching a company like Mark Zuckerberg, OZY’s putting the smart money on fueling big ideas. But time’s running out, so budding young Einsteins should apply today.
She’s in. Hillary Clinton will announce her 2016 presidential bid on Sunday via Twitter. The former secretary of state, senator and First Lady has already leased Brooklyn real estate that’s expected to house her campaign headquarters and has been hiring key staffers. Ahead in many polls, Clinton is expected to focus her announcement on middle class issues before immediately heading to Iowa for her first campaign stop and releasing a set of videos and other announcements over Facebook and email. Her immediate challenge: living up to the immense front-runner hype.
It’s more than an electronic handshake. The business-oriented networking service is acquiring Lynda, an online education company with 6,300 video courses on a variety of professional topics in various languages, for $1.5 billion. The buy, LinkedIn’s biggest to date, signals a commitment to helping its 300 million subscribers learn new skills that can help them manage their careers. CEO Jeff Weiner hopes the deal — which should be finalized later this year — will help the firm expand in China and elsewhere in the emerging world.
Not a car, not quite a motorcycle. Starting today, drivers in Japan’s 13 million-strong capital can take new electric wheels out for a spin. The automotive giant is letting city drivers, for $3 a ride, test out five i-Roads, sporting two front wheels and one in back. The front ones have independent suspension, allowing the vehicle to tilt for faster, more stable turns. This green experiment, Toyota’s first in a major metropolis, will last six months and help steer decisions on mass-producing the car-bike hybrid.
Troy Polamalu’s had a good run. The Pittsburgh Steelers safety with famously puffy hair has decided to retire after 12 years. Many observers thought his roaming style of play was beginning to reflect his 33 years, and he’s decided to get out rather than risk being released and forced to find a new team. The California native said it was tough to go — commentators lauded his decision — because he thinks the Steelers are close to making another run at the title.
He’s got big shoes to fill. “Suicide Squad” director David Ayer released the first photo of Jared Leto as the Joker from their upcoming film. Last year’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner is the first to pick up the evil clown prince role since Heath Ledger won widespread acclaim for his portrayal in 2008’s The Dark Knight. The photo shoes Leto with green hair and a gaunt face holding a camera in a scene inspired by the classic “Killing Joke” comic story. Expect more teases as filming gets underway.
She dared to dream. Mt. Saint Joseph University basketball player Lauren Hill died after a two-year bout with brain cancer. The 19-year-old freshman became an icon with her non-profit foundation raising more than $1.5 million for cancer research. But it was Hill’s example of pursuing her dreams in the face of extreme adversity that inspired millions across the globe, especially young people living with cancer. Tickets for Hill’s debut game sold out in less than hour as 10,000 fans watched her realize her dream of scoring in a college game.
They won’t let go. Ex-NFL star Darren Sharper faces numerous strict restrictions when released from prison, including a ringed monitor attached to his penis. The “penile plethysmograph” supposedly determines if the user is aroused by imagery connected to sexual crimes but has been deemed “unreliable” by the American Psychiatric Association. If Sharper, a convicted rapist, becomes aroused, he’ll go back to jail. He’ll also be on probation for life, can never drink alcohol again, must register as a sex offender and can’t travel more than 50 miles without permission.