It worked in Ferguson. Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is calling on the DoJ to take a thorough look at the Baltimore PD in light of its treatment of Freddie Gray. The investigation would be department-wide, and drill down to who’s getting frisked, and why, and how often, in search of civil rights violations. The department is already the subject of an investigation, but this one would carry the weight of law. Whatever the Feds turn up, this could lead to full-scale reform of a police force that’s clearly not playing well with the public.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They barely finished on time. The deadline for forming a coalition government was Wednesday at midnight, and seven weeks after the election, Likud finally managed to cobble together the 61 seats necessary for a majority in Israel’s 120-member parliament. They can thank the ultranationalist Bayit Yehudi (“Jewish Home”) party for delivering the last eight seats, and though terms of their deal are still under wraps, the party’s support for annexing Palestinian territory may further deepen Israel’s rift with Europe and the U.S.
Either way, it looks like the nation will have another coalition government. Though Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition leader Ed Miliband stumped for votes up until the last minute Wednesday night, polls showed that neither party is likely to get a majority and whichever comes out ahead will have to search for coalition partners — for Labour, the most likely candidate is the newly relevant SNP, while the Conservatives might opt for the ultranationalist UKIP, which could see its first general election victories tomorrow.
It was a grim rehearsal. The man blamed for slamming a Germanwings plane into the Alps en route to Düsseldorf apparently reset the autopilot to 100 feet multiple times while flying earlier that day. A French investigation discovered that Andreas Lubitz made his moves when the other pilot left the cockpit, but no one noticed — not even air traffic control. He’d later do the same thing, this time steering the plane into the ground, on the return flight. Now authorities will investigate whether Lufthansa can be held liable for Lubitz’s actions, before they file criminal charges.
Authorities are sifting through the online communications of two gunmen shot dead outside an anti-Islam event in Texas. ISIS claims to have orchestrated their attack, though investigators doubt foreign militants were involved. But the U.S. State Department is upping the ante and offering a whopping $20 million under its Rewards for Justice program for information on the whereabouts of four top ISIS leaders, including Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, one of the group’s senior commanders.
Now it’s Angela Merkel’s turn. The German chancellor blasted the U.S. in 2013 over Edward Snowden’s revelations that the NSA had tapped her phone, saying, “Spying between friends is unacceptable.” Today other allies are making similar accusations against Germany’s federal intelligence service. Austria has filed a legal complaint alleging the agency spied on European politicians and conducted industrial espionage at the behest of America. Germany’s intelligence chief denies any wrongdoing and promises to clear everything up at an investigative hearing today.
They’re looking to set sail. Ferry services between Florida and Cuba — illegal since 1960 — have been given a green light. The U.S. Treasury has reportedly informed at least four ferry operators that their licenses have been approved for passenger ferry services to the island. The journeys should be less expensive than flights, but American tourists must await a congressional lifting of the embargo and travel ban. And Cuba must also approve the ferries — so operators still face a little red tape.
It’s bubbling back up. Saudi Arabia has raised oil prices, sending Benchmark North Sea Brent up to $68 a barrel — rebounding about halfway from its five-year low of $45 in January. Riyadh never slowed production during the slump, and it’s now increasing prices while maintaining output in order to expand market share. But the world’s largest oil producer may be in for a shock: As U.S. wells that were abandoned during the glut swing back into action, prices may slither back down the slippery slope.
Germany arrests four in suspected plot against Muslims. (BBC)
Four face hanging over Afghan mob murder. (Al Jazeera)
Greek default concerns pile pressure onto government bonds. (WSJ) sub
Gun from Georgia linked to New York cop’s death. (NYT)
U.S. regulator charges UAE traders with ‘spoofing.’ (FT) sub
Sylvia Driskell says she’s doing God’s work. The 66-year-old has filed a federal lawsuit in Nebraska against all homosexuals. Identifying herself as an ambassador for Jesus and labeling homosexuality an abomination, she’s challenging the court to deem God a liar. Her handwritten brief cites the Bible and Webster’s Dictionary as evidence, but no court cases. Driskell plans to represent herself, and while some gays have joked about liquidating assets to defend themselves, columnist Dan Savage really hopes to get deposed.
It’s one solution to a shrinking workforce. In a first for China’s manufacturing sector, Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology plans to replace the bulk of its staff with robots, laying off 90 percent of its 1,800 workers. It’s building a new $322 million factory and plans to keep just 200 humans around to supervise the machines. Other Chinese firms are working on similar upgrades, and while there’s hope the technology will create some new jobs, it’s more likely to generate lots of pink slips.
Even marine mammals form cliques. According to a newly released six-year study of our bottlenosed friends in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, those inhabiting more confined areas — like people in small towns — were friendlier than those who had more room to roam. Their approach to relations? Keep your friends close — and if you’re stuck close together, get friendlier. Scientists hope more research in this area will help us better understand how dolphin societies spread pathogens, exchange information and breed.
They don’t have Joss Whedon to kick around anymore. After thanking his fans and killing at the box office, the Avengers: Age of Ultron filmmaker has ditched the social media platform, leaving his million-plus followers speculating. Some believe he fled over criticism of his “damsel in distress” portrayal of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow character, suggesting he’s beset with a PC witch hunt. Others say he’s dodging the inevitable death threats from trolls. But the director’s own clues indicate that it’s simply too much work.
They’re not pulling any punches … but did he? The Filipino boxer had a shoulder injury that he didn’t disclose before losing “The Fight of the Century” to Floyd Mayweather. Two fans have filed a class-action lawsuit against Pacquiao for $5 million, arguing that those who bet on the fight or paid to watch were denied information that affected its outcome. But at least Mayweather says a rematch against Pacquiao, who must now undergo torn rotator cuff surgery, has a fighting chance.