It’s a worst-case scenario. A Boeing 738 passenger jet crashed while attempting to land at Rostov-on-Don airport in southern Russia, according to government sources. All those aboard were reportedly killed in the crash, including 55 passengers. Flydubai Flight 981 was completing its scheduled journey from Dubai when it crashed, according to Russian news agency Tass. More details on still emerging on why and how the early morning accident occurred.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They got him. Authorities have nabbed Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that claimed 130 lives. Police launched anti-terror raids in the Molenbeek suburb of the Belgian capital today — where Abdeslam lived before the French attacks — reportedly wounding and detaining him. Another wanted man, Monir Ahmed Al Hadj, and three others accused of harboring Abdeslam, have been arrested. French President Francois Hollande, meanwhile, has said he plans to seek, and obtain, Abdeslam’s extradition.
It’s decided. Bloc leaders and Turkish officials have finalized an agreement to expel nearly all asylum seekers trying to reach Europe via the Aegean Sea. European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that they’d reached a “unanimous” deal to start sending migrants whose asylum claims are rejected back to Turkey as early as Sunday. In turn, EU nations will resettle of thousands of Syrian migrants currently living in Turkey. The move is likely to spark protests by human rights groups who say the plan is illegal under international law.
He won’t be taking a backseat. The New York Times and other media reported Thursday that the president has begun to position himself to influence the 2016 race, even suggesting privately to donors that the Bernie Sanders campaign should be brought to a close so Democrats can rally around Hillary Clinton. OZY’s Nick Fouriezos says that was just one bit of good news for the front-runner, who also learned yesterday that she’d won Missouri, which had been too close to call for two days, by just a few thousand votes.
The U.N.’s not going to like this. The Hermit Kingdom’s neighbors are closely monitoring developments after the unpredictable state fired at least one ballistic missile into the ocean today, the latest in a series of aggressions following harsh new international sanctions. A U.S. official and South Korean media have reported that it was a medium-range missile, the first North Korea’s launched since 2014 — and fully capable of reaching Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that Japan would “take all necessary measures” to be prepared to respond to hostilities.
Forget Keystone XL. President Obama may have blocked the controversial pipeline, but the company behind it hasn’t stopped to mourn. Instead, it’s agreed to buy Columbia Pipeline Group for $13 billion cash, giving TransCanada $5.6 billion worth of U.S.-based oil projects and access to natural gas bonanzas in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. While American oil production is increasingly affected by the recent plunge in prices, this deal, expected to close before next year, will grant TransCanada access to two of the cheapest production sources in the nation.
Hulk Hogan awarded $115 million in verdict against Gawker (Hollywood Reporter)
Police find fingerprints of Paris terror suspect in Brussels flat. (BBC)
Judge blocks former Brazilian president’s cabinet appointment over legal troubles. (AP)
German triple agent sentenced to eight years for treason. (Mashable)
Administrators struggle to assimilate Chinese students at U.S. universities. (WSJ) sub
Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz. (OZY)
Everyone and their mummy might be in this tomb. Archaeologists have long wondered where Queen Nefertiti, wife of Akhenaten and stepmother to Tutankhamun, is buried. Many believe that because Tut died before his own tomb was ready he might have been buried in Nefertiti’s chamber, thus obscuring her remains. Researchers scanned the walls, revealing two spaces that they say may contain organic and metallic materials. More scans are needed to see whether this is what Egypt’s minister of antiquities says “could be the discovery of the century.”
They won’t have these robots to push around anymore. Google’s parent company is reportedly interested in selling the major robotics developer it purchased back in 2013. Sources say they’re disappointed with the venture’s commercial prospects and are even concerned that the company’s viral videos of robots righting themselves after being shoved by humans might be “terrifying” some people, especially those afraid of losing their jobs to machines. Amazon and Toyota are rumored to be potential buyers, with both looking to build up their robot presence in factories around the world.
It already has “bay” in the name. If President Obama’s plan to close the infamous detention facility succeeds, it should become a marine research center and park, say conservation biologist Joe Roman and law professor James Kraska in a new proposal in Science. They argue that such a facility could help diplomatic relations, protect some of the world’s most significant coral reefs and be a good cost-saving measure for the Pentagon. The future of Guantánamo is expected to be discussed during the president’s upcoming visit to Cuba.
This borders on scandalous. Thousands in the Socialist Republic are tuning in daily to watch shows like Balika Vadhu (“Child Bride”). But the characters aren’t Vietnamese — instead viewers are watching actors from India, China, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea duke it out on-screen in what is proving a diplomatic play for the Southeast Asian country’s hearts and minds. These regional neighbors are looking to boost trade with Vietnam and its growing economy, and they’re seeping into living rooms to jostle for cultural influence.
It’s called March Madness for a reason. The unheralded Trojans pushed the No. 5 favorites to double overtime before finally sealing the stunning upset 85-83. Senior guard Josh Hagins’ performance was historic: 31 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals — the most in tournament history since steals stats were first recorded in 1986. Seated courtside, Trojans’ alum and former NBA star Derek Fisher called the 22-year-old’s game “unbelievable.” Next Hagins will try to keep his team’s dream alive when they face No. 4 Iowa State on Saturday.