Will seeing be believing for American Catholics? The pontiff began the U.S. leg of his Cold War-détente tour today, leaving Cuba and touching down at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, where he was greeted by President Obama. But Francis will find the stateside Catholic Church in a state of upheaval, owing to dwindling congregations and resources. Tomorrow he visits the White House ahead of a Washington, D.C., parade in his honor and Thursday’s first-ever papal address before Congress — all the while praying to get Americans back to church.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’ve decided to share and share alike. Despite the objections of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary, E.U. officials managed to forge a deal on the 120,000 refugees they’ve agreed to resettle. The deal, which will unfold over two years, consists of relocating refugees from Hungary, Italy and Greece to other nations in the 28-member union in order to portion out the potential financial burdens. Though usually such emergency votes require unanimity, this one was decided by majority vote — and must be ratified at another meeting tomorrow.
He’ll head from one Washington to another. Xi’s weeklong visit will see him meeting with business leaders and visiting U.S. corporate giants Boeing and Microsoft in the Evergreen State before heading to a black-tie dinner at the White House and finally addressing the U.N. in New York City. Rumors of Chinese cyberattacks aimed at U.S. business secrets, which Xi has denied in interviews, may dog his visit — and many analysts don’t expect the trip to yield up policy breakthroughs, just to serve as bedrock for future cooperation between the U.S. and China on investments and climate change.
They’re fueling investor concern. The German automotive giant warned today that 11 million of its diesel cars around the world carry the same software used in the U.S. to beat emissions tests. The news follows South Korea’s launching of a probe into VW cars sold there, prompted by American regulators demanding last week that Volkswagen recall nearly 500,000 cars. VW shares plunged nearly 20 percent yesterday, and some are attributing European market fragility today — and the Dow’s opening drop of more than 200 points — largely to Volkswagen’s blues, and its newly-issued profit warning.
He’s cashing in his chips. The Wisconsin governor and early star contender for the GOP nomination announced yesterday that he’s no longer forging a path to the White House, owing to waning support and financial trouble — compounded, some say, by a bloated staff and mixed messages. But Walker didn’t leave without a few words about the negative tone of the 2016 race, noting how he hopes his departure will help “a positive conservative message” rise to the top, and urging voters to choose an “alternative to the current front-runner.”
They’re not quite ready to surrender. But last week’s coup leaders have been pushed into a corner after troops reached the city of Ouagadougou. Army chiefs are negotiating with the rebellious presidential guard, who have now released Prime Minister Isaac Zida and interim President Michel Kafando from arrest. Last night, thousands celebrated coup leader Gen. Gilbert Diendere’s apparent defeat, but he’s vowing not to give up entirely until he can hand over power to a civilian transitional government and secure an amnesty deal.
Millions of Muslims begin annual pilgrimage. (Reuters)
Gunmen take three foreigners hostage from resort in the Philippines. (DW)
President Xi Jinping arrives in U.S. amid questions of image, strength. (FT) sub
Couples want Kim Davis to stop altering marriage licenses. (USA Today)
Malaysian leader faces U.S. corruption probe. (CNBC)
It’s harder to believe without a bit of bling. A new report claims that dozens of recruits are leaving the jihadist group after failing to receive the cars and luxury goods they were promised in exchange for joining the cause. The report looked at 58 defectors from 17 countries and found a common thread of disappointment and even boredom with militant life, not to mention disenchantment with brutality. The authors hope the findings can help other countries discourage would-be recruits from taking an ill-advised leap of faith.
A spoonful of sugar won’t help. Turing Pharmaceuticals recently bought the 62-year-old malaria medicine Daraprim and has increased the price from $13.50 a pill to $750 each. It’s also the only FDA-approved drug to treat the parasitic infection toxoplasmosis and is used to help AIDS and cancer patients fight infections. Other drug companies have engaged in similar price lifts, but this 5,455.5 percent hike is proving especially hard to swallow, prompting calls for market controls. Hillary Clinton tweeted her outrage, vowing to make a change with a plan to cap drug costs.
It’s electrifying … and hoping to put Google in the rear-view mirror. The iPhone maker’s been hard at work on its first-ever car for months, hiring employees with automotive tech experience. New reports say Project Titan has been given a green light to begin making cars, with plans to triple today’s 600-strong staff and steer the project to consumers in just four years. But don’t toss your license aside just yet: Apple’s first car won’t drive itself — but there’s always the hope of an upgrade.
It takes two — and technology — to tango. At least it does for those mastering the Twister-meets-modern dance hybrid taught by Bounden, the new dance app created in collaboration with the Dutch National Ballet. It won’t do much for your pliés, but it will help you and a partner gyrate a spinning ball through an obstacle course while encouraging a graceful flow and capturing a balletic spirit. The app’s winning accolades and awards, which could nudge other developers to give programs encouraging movement and teamwork a spin.
They’re cutting losses. Minnesota is reportedly negotiating a contract buyout with the NBA’s top 2013 draft pick in order to make him a free agent. Acquired as part of last year’s trade that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland, Bennett never blossomed with the Wolves, averaging a paltry 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. This move would solidify the Canadian forward’s status as a big draft bust. But Bennett’s expected to be picked up off waivers, giving the 22-year-old another shot to find his place in the league.