He’s calling foul. The Republican race for the White House took a frosty turn today when Sen. Ted Cruz responded angrily to a tabloid “smear” alleging he’d had extramarital affairs with five women. “These attacks are garbage,” Cruz said, while blaming rival Donald Trump and his “henchmen” for planting the story. Two of the three alleged mistresses also denounced the report. Trump, meanwhile, denies any involvement in the scandal and says that “unlike Lyin’ Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchmen and then pretend total innocence.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re connecting the dots. Authorities have named the second suicide bomber at Zaventem airport as Najim Laachraoui, whose DNA was reportedly found at the Paris attacks sites last November. The police crackdown continued today with three more arrests in the Belgian capital that were connected to a foiled terror plot in Paris, according to French officials. Meanwhile, EU justice ministers are ramping up calls to share intelligence between nations — a plan that had been stalled but has taken on new urgency in wake of Tuesday’s deadly attacks.
Someone’s standing up for civil rights. After the staunchly conservative state passed a law banning transgender people from using bathrooms for the gender they identify with and forbidding local protections against LGBT discrimination, the companies that sustain North Carolina’s economy have sent a clear message: This stinks. PayPal, American Airlines, IBM, Dow Chemical, Apple and others have all criticized the new legislation, though none have threatened to withdraw from the state. The NCAA, scheduled to hold tournament games there in 2017 and 2018, says it’ll keep an eye on the situation.
They’ve been served. Sanders’ campaign officially sued the DNC, just hitting Thursday’s deadline to do so after first filing in December over access to voter data files. The Vermont senator accused the committee of negligence and breach of contract, seeking $75,000 in damages and an independent audit of the organization’s policies. While the Sanders camp has accused the DNC of showing blatant favoritism to Hillary Clinton, OZY’s Nick Fouriezos says he should look to settle out of court quickly to focus on his Hail Mary bid for president.
Can they sweeten the deal? As online shopping takes on more of the market, chocolate manufacturers, especially during warm months, are finding that the price of getting unmelted products to consumers may be prohibitive. Refrigerated trucks have been the go-to solution, but small online orders can’t do that, and instead have to add extra charges for bulky ice packs to keep the chocolate from turning to goo. Hershey’s has offered a $25,000 prize for the lightest, most cost-effective solution, but has not yet announced their contest results.
Pentagon: ISIS finance minister Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli killed in Syria. (CNN)
Korean-American reportedly confesses to stealing North Korean secrets. (Reuters)
New Zealand votes to keep its current flag in nationwide referendum. (NYT)
Democrats protest subpoenas seeking names of fetal tissue researchers. (The Hill)
British man arrested after tweeting about harassing Muslim woman. (Time)
Feeling presidential after a week of briefings? Prove it with the PDB quiz. (OZY)
They’re not afraid of a challenge. Though women’s colleges across the country are facing declining enrollment and the prospect of going coed, Trinity Washington University in D.C. has followed a different path. When its traditional pool of white, middle-class applicants began heading to newly coed men’s schools, Trinity’s president Patricia McGuire doubled down on minority enrollment and women in need of financial help. Today the school’s raising tens of millions of dollars and plans to increase its student body by nearly 50 percent over the next five years.
That didn’t take long. Less than a day after the computing giant debuted Tay, an artificial intelligence chatbot programmed in “conversational understanding,” it was spouting anti-Semitic messages and berating feminists. That’s because Tay absorbs the content users tweet at it, an open invitation to politically incorrect pranksters online. Microsoft eventually stepped in, deleting some of the more offensive comments and taking the chatbot offline for some “adjustments,” but not before the Internet had a field day with the software’s rocky introduction to the wild world of social media.
This won’t beef up sales. A case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, has been found in the northern Ardennes region. The French farm ministry insisted that the nation’s beef is still safe to eat, saying they believe this was a singular case. They reassured meat-eaters that all parts of the cow that could be infected with the brain-destroying disease are removed by law when slaughtered. But the fear of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of the deadly illness, may prompt regulators to lower France’s safety grade.
He was always himself. The television and film veteran died at a Los Angeles hospital after reportedly suffering an unexpected emergency. No official cause of death has been revealed, but he was not known to be suffering from any illnesses. The Larry Sanders Show and It’s Garry Shandling’s Show helped redefine modern television, breaking the fourth wall and starring the comic as a satirical version of himself while skewering the Hollywood establishment. In recent years Shandling appeared in Marvel films like Iron Man 2 and hosted the 2004 Emmys.
They’ll rebuild together. The much-heralded former Washington Redskins quarterback was set back by injuries and relegated to the third string. But after Cleveland jettisoned their own troubled prospect, Johnny Manziel, they needed a QB — and RG III, with his exemplary personal life and everything to prove, might be a perfect match for the perpetually rebuilding Browns, who have started 24 quarterbacks since 1999. Now, the 26-year-old Heisman Trophy winner has a two-year contract and the chance to reinvent himself in a city desperate for its own redemption.