“I will light you up,” the cop said, a stun gun in hand. A new video of the arrest of Sandra Bland, 28, days before she was found dead in her Texas jail cell, has raised questions about the routine nature of her traffic stop. The state trooper, who pulled Bland over near Houston, failed to exhibit professionalism or courtesy, admits the director of public safety. Some are now questioning the video’s accuracy, noting what appear to be crude edits and cuts. Police say they’re a glitch, but they’re fueling further suspicion of foul play.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He’s feeding them bitter pills one at a time and praying for survival. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was back before parliament today, asking lawmakers to support a second round of reforms needed to secure a $94 billion bailout and, luckily for him, the measures passed with a 230 to 63 vote with five abstentions and two absences. The votes came mostly from opposing parties, though, which means Tsipras does not have enough support to sustain a minority government and avoid new elections this coming fall. Controversial measures such as early retirement will come before the legislature next month.
Cuba wants it back, Obama wants it shut and many Republicans want it to stay open. The president has just 18 months left to deliver on a campaign promise of closing the facility — and reports say he may be drafting a final plan to close it. There are still roadblocks: New Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has yet to approve any proposed transfer deals for the 52 low-threat detainees who can be sent overseas, and even then 64 high-threat prisoners would require long-term U.S. custodial arrangements.
He’s been stuck in the country for four years. But today Chinese authorities returned Ai Weiwei’s passport, confiscated in 2011 when the subversive artist was banned from leaving the country as part of a nationwide crackdown on political dissidents. He celebrated his newfound mobility in an Instagram post, and says his first jaunt will be to visit his 6-year-old son in Germany. Many hail this as progress on China’s part — but note that Ai may still have trouble leaving the country, which has recently begun imprisoning human rights lawyers and activists.
Most are assuming they’ve been kidnapped. Three of the journalists were Spanish, and Spain’s prime minister says he’s not ruling out any theory to explain the sudden disappearance of Ángel Sastre, Antonio Pampliega, and José Manuel López, who haven’t been heard from in over a week but were most recently in the hotly contested battleground city of Aleppo. Jumpei Yasuda, a freelance reporter from Japan, is also missing — and while details are sketchy, everyone agrees that this underscores the danger journalists face in Syria in pursuit of stories.
Some folks are impossible to please. CEO Tim Cook called it “an amazing quarter,” with revenues up 33 percent, ringing in at $49.6 billion. But shareholders were less than amazed by iPhone sales of 47.5 million units, coming in 1.5 million below expectations. They sent stock south yesterday, to its lowest point since February, with shares dropping 6.7 percent to erase $66 billion of the tech giant’s value. But with revenues from China more than doubling, Cook believes an 87 percent jump in iPhone sales there will create a market to rival the United States.
Strike kills senior al Qaida terrorist Muhsin al Fadhli. (CNN)
Trump to visit Mexican border. (ABC)
Dylann Roof indicted on hate crime charges. (NYT)
Burundi braces for election result. (BBC)
Tennessee shooter’s uncle arrested in Jordan. (Reuters)
Rights court: Italy must change law on gay marriage. (DW)
No surprise: he’s loaded. The surprise frontrunner Republican presidential candidate has at least an estimated $2.4 billion in large assets, $1.35 billion in real estate and company holdings and another $70.5 million in liquid assets. He’s also carrying $265 million in liabilities. The report contains other juicy details including book earnings and speaking fees. There’s no way for the FCC to verify if Trump is actually worth the $10 billion he recently claimed but the disclosure form erases any doubt that he’s by far the richest candidate in the field.
We might have found a second home. The space agency is teasing an announcement concerning the discovery of an Earth-like planet. Though the details are not confirmed, speculation is rampant that the Kepler Space Telescope may have stumbled upon an exo-planet with the potential to host biological life. In a statement previewing the press conference, NASA described its scientists as being “on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years.” Since launching in 2009, Kepler has made thousands of important discoveries but finding a planet in the so-called Goldilocks zone has proved so far elusive.
He’s in good company. The pioneering online sports journalist and podcaster ended months of speculation, signing a contract with the cable network. Starting in 2016, the Grantland co-founder will get his own talk show, video podcast and will play a role in developing other content. Simmons joins a team of players including Bill Maher and Bryant Gumbel who have found new life at HBO, free from the constraints of traditional networks. HBO already has an Emmy award winning program, Real Sports, though it’s unclear if the acclaimed “30 for 30” producer will contribute to that program.
The literary experimenter is gone. Doctorow, a writer who offered imaginative renderings of fictional characters in historic settings with classic novels like Ragtime, died of lung cancer at home in Manhattan yesterday. The Bronx native won some of the most prestigious prizes in literature, including the PEN/Faulkner award for Billy Bathgate and The March, which also earned the National Book Critics Circle Award. While many will remember him as a historical writer, Doctorow — who also taught at top universities — said he preferred to be known as an “American novelist.”
The queen of copyright is going international — but she could find herself in trouble when she walks in. Swift’s popularity in China is off the charts, and the Grammy winner is battling illegal merchandising by premiering a fashion line designed just for China’s market. It’ll be peddling dresses and sweaters by August — but T.S. 1989, her initials and album title, carry a different meaning in China. They’re also the initials and year of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and many wonder how China’s censors will handle Swift’s new venture.
The saga continues. The ‘Game of Thrones’ community is rampantly speculating whether Jon Snow will be returning for season 6, after the fan site Watchers on the Wall posted a photo of actor Kit Harington in Belfast, where much of the show is filmed. Many fans have speculated that his death in season 5 wouldn’t last long, and director David Nutter reported that even President Barack Obama asked if the character would return. Though Harington’s return hasn’t been confirmed, fans will be able to know for sure when the ‘Game of Thrones’ returns to HBO.
You’ll need to rustle up a lot more than vittles. Waggoner ranch, the largest U.S. farmstead by acreage within a single fence — including four lakes and an oil field — is up for grabs. It takes prospective buyers days to see all 800 square miles of it, the modest patch being larger than Los Angeles and New York City combined. But they should also know that the purchaser doesn’t get everything: The Waggoners plan to keep their brand on 25 percent of the mineral rights.
This will give you chills. After colder-than-expected summer months in 2013, the fast-melting Arctic ice shelf reportedly grew by a third and appears to have continued growing throughout last year, offsetting recent decades’ losses. The temperature change only resulted in five percent fewer melting days, but it was the coolest period experienced in the region since the early 1990s. Experts say global warming continues to threaten ice levels, but this unexpected buildup raises hope that efforts to reduce climate change could be profoundly cool.
These aren’t the self-driving cars you’re looking for. Hackers have demonstrated how they can seize control of vehicles thanks to a new vulnerability in Chrysler’s Uconnect system that lets them access brakes, transmission and even steering. The test driver, a journalist, said it left him fearing for his life, and hacking demonstrators Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek fear this type of bug could prove deadly. The pair will present their findings at the Defcon hacker conference next month in hopes of inspiring the automotive industry to adopt new cyber-security standards.
It wasn’t a game. Twenty-three West African youths were sent to play for a top Laotian professional team in February without pay, violating FIFA rules. A players’ union rescued 17 of the youngsters, and one NGO estimates that similar trade ensnares 15,000 teens annually. The Liberian, Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean kids were lured with the promise of $200 a month, but were never paid and were made to sleep on a stadium floor. Yet six have voluntarily decided to stay, apparently willing to do anything for a shot at stardom.