”There was a big bump, and a fireball.” That was what one passenger aboard Train 89 from New York to Savannah, Georgia, experienced as it struck a backhoe, killing two and injuring 35 about 15 miles southwest of Philadelphia. The dead were reportedly Amtrak workers. While it’s not clear where they were when the crash occurred this morning, media reports said there was a seven-member crew aboard a vehicle on the tracks. None of the other injuries were life threatening, according to local authorities. Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board are reportedly headed for the crash site.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Is he taking out the brash? Not one to apologize, the billionaire said his tweet of an unflattering photo of rival Ted Cruz’s wife Heidi “was a mistake.” Trump’s the GOP front-runner, but appears to have suffered for his callous remarks about women, nuclear weapons and immigrants: Polls give Cruz a 10-point advantage in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, which OZY’s Nick Fouriezos says could complicate Trump’s effort to avoid a July convention challenge. Dairyland Democrats also favor the underdog: Bernie Sanders heads into the contest polling as much as six points ahead of Hillary Clinton.
It’s a wake-up call … on privacy. The FBI told Apple this week that it needn’t bother with the court-ordered security-bypassing software tool — a “back door” the computing giant refused to provide. That’s because the feds had already unlocked the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. But by drawing a line in the sand with demands that investigators be able to circumvent Apple security and then withholding how it did so on its own, the government may have irreparably fractured its relationship with Silicon Valley, jeopardizing future cooperation.
Last Sunday’s park bombing was an unimaginable horror. But in the South Asian Islamic Republic’s battle with the Taliban — which claimed responsibility for the Easter carnage that killed more than 70 — many are looking beyond the extremists’ motives to question why their government’s war on terror seems so ineffective. Concerned not just about jingoist rhetoric but also violent government tactics and deep religious and regional divisions, prize-winning author Mohammed Hanif ponders how his fellow Pakistanis can support any authority that fails to protect their children from such brutality.
It pays to dream big. Golden State Gov. Jerry Brown — under pressure from a prospective ballot measure — agreed to sign legislation that phases in a $15-per-hour minimum wage over six years. The movement to hit that target had succeeded in only a few liberal cities like Seattle and Los Angeles, so scoring America’s most populous state surprised even activists. With 59 percent of Americans in favor of the $15 floor, New York State officials are racing to pass a similar measure, with several more states poised to follow.
Azerbaijan Declares Unilateral Cease-Fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, L.A. Dad Accused of Killing Son for Being Gay
Azerbaijan says it’s ceasing fire in flare-up with Armenians. (Washington Post)
L.A. father charged with fatally shooting son for being gay. (LA Times)
Hotel guests in Mauritius find suspected piece of MH370. (BBC)
U.K. to probe report of doctor doping 150 elite athletes. (The Guardian)
Grammy-winning Latin jazz pioneer Gato Barbieri dies at 83. (NYT)
Alaska Air poised to buy Virgin America for $2 billion. (WSJ) sub
In a tournament of surprises, the Wildcats had one more. Their ironclad defense hobbled Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, the nation’s best college player, as they shot 71 percent from the field to vaporize the Sooners by a record margin, 95-51, avenging a December drubbing. Then North Carolina, the only surviving No. 1 seed, dispatched 10th-seed Syracuse 83-69 as they’d done twice before this season. The victors meet tomorrow in Houston for their seventh title matchup, with the burden on Villanova to deprive the Tar Heels of their sixth gold-plated trophy.
This might keep you up tonight. Sleep aid Belsomra debuted on American TV screens — touted as a superior alternative to Ambien and Lunesta — despite efficacy study results that were less than impressive and evidence of troubling side effects. The U.S. and New Zealand are the only developed nations that allow such TV pitches, and the American Medical Association is demanding the practice be banned. But for pharmaceutical companies, the lure is undeniable: The pill that grants users just 16 more minutes of sleep than placebos is expected to rake in $300 million this year.
It takes a village … to blaze a new vacation trend. Traditional hotels are so last century, says OZY’s Silvia Marchetti, when you can stay in scattered resorts. This new hospitality style, taking hold in Italy, Spain, Finland and Great Britain, uses rooms, spas, kitchens, restaurants and bars scattered across historic villages off the beaten path. Rather than tearing down structures to build anew, hoteliers can exploit what’s already there. And in place of sterile high-rises, these year-round resorts are vibrant rural communities, offering the potential for an authentic cultural experience.
Is there “white gold” in them thar hills? The home of Nevada’s 1860s silver rush has mining entrepreneurs and investors frothing over its beds of brine, evaporating to reveal lithium, the key ingredient in laptop, smartphone and electric car batteries. All eyes are on Tesla, which has a deal to buy the Clayton Valley’s coveted metal at below-market prices. But the suits, techies and townsfolk are anxious to learn if seismic shifts and volcanic activity have really created enough of the white metal to compete with dominant producers in Chile, Argentina and Australia.
They feel the Force. Despite J.J. Abrams’ comment that the saga is a “boy’s thing,” women dominate the world of Star Wars fan fiction. And much of that amateur text is sexualized, currently centered on tales in which Kylo Ren, the villain of The Force Awakens, pairs up with the film’s heroine, Rey. Never mind the two might soon be revealed as siblings. The “Reylo” phenomenon — along with a gay Finn-Poe plot line — is on fire and stoking speculation that it could alter the actual films’ gestating screenplays.
He’s struggling his way upstream. American Bill May is arguably the best man in his sport, but he’s no Olympian. That’s because the Games see his synchronized swimming as a female thing, so he’s never been given a chance at a gold medal. But when authorities recently permitted male-female duet swimming at the world championships, the 37-year-old came out of retirement — and won the gold. Now he’s holding his breath that Olympic officials will follow suit, allowing him to compete at the Summer Games in Rio and make a well-timed splash.