Russia is a nation in mourning. Yesterday’s blast aboard a subway train in the country’s second-largest city killed 14 people and injured 49, while another unexploded bomb was defused at a second station. Authorities, who’ve launched an anti-terror investigation, say the suspected suicide bomber was Akbarzhon Jalilov, a Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan in 1995. President Vladimir Putin, a St. Petersburg native who was in the city yesterday, said the bomber’s motives are still under investigation and that terrorism hasn’t been ruled out.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s all on the table. Speaking about strategies for dealing with an increasingly belligerent North Korea, President Donald Trump refused to go into detail but said, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.” This week, Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Florida resort — and he’s indicated he’ll be using international trade as leverage to strong-arm China into making North Korea back down. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently floated a pre-emptive strike against North Korea as another option.
It’s a close one. With almost all of the votes counted, former Vice President Lenin Moreno has 51 percent of Ecuador’s vote, but conservative Guillermo Lasso says he wants a recount. Conflicting exit polls had at one point left both candidates claiming victory. If the wheelchair-bound Moreno, a former U.N. envoy on disability, holds his lead, the election will buck the trend of right-wing victories that’s swept through Latin America. It will also be a relief for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose asylum status was at risk.
They’re between a rock and a hard place. EU negotiation guidelines for Brexit indicated that Spain will have a say in decisions about Gibraltar, a tiny British territory on Spain’s southern tip. Now a former Conservative party leader in Britain has escalated the dispute with talk of war, comparing it to the 1982 Falklands conflict. While actual war appears a remote possibility, neither side is backing down. This could jeopardize Britain’s hopes of Spain being an ally in Brexit negotiations — unless Prime Minister Theresa May makes concessions, which could outrage U.K. conservatives.
They won’t take the risk. Oscar Cantú Murguía, editor of Juarez newspaper Norte, informed readers in a front page letter that it’s simply too dangerous to continue publishing after three Mexican journalists were killed last month. Cantú admitted the paper, one of five in the city, has also seen financial problems. But the Committee to Protect Journalists described Mexico’s situation as a “full-blown freedom of expression crisis,” estimating that 88 journalists have been killed there since 1992. It warned that the situation affects not only the newspaper industry, but its readers.
Know This: Uber’s reportedly engaging in unprecedented psychological experiments to get its independent contractor drivers to act more like employees without getting the same benefits. Rescuers are still digging through mud hoping to find survivors of devastating floods in Colombia, which have so far claimed 254 lives. And the Baltic states are growing increasingly concerned about what they say are Russian campaigns of disinformation that could be a prelude to invasion.
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It’s redemption for the Tar Heels. North Carolina avenged last year’s devastating finals loss, beating the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65 in Arizona last night to claim its sixth national title. After a fast-paced start, the Tar Heels barely survived a scrappy, foul-ridden second half to hold on to their tight lead in the final minutes. It’s a brutal ending for the Gonzaga team, which had experienced a remarkable 37-1 run building up to the final, but for UNC it’s an emotional victory rich with joy and vindication.
If you see something, say something. Chicago police say 40 people watched the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl broadcast on Facebook Live on March 19, yet nobody reported the crime. Now one 14-year-old boy has been apprehended and charged with sexual assault and child pornography. Police say they expect to make more arrests. Meanwhile, Facebook condemned the crime, one of a spate of recent atrocities streamed live on social media, as “hideous” — and committed to removing such videos from the site.
The rent is too damn high. Rentberry, a divisive rental auction site, is barely a year old but has already taken heavy criticism for promises that landlords would see higher rents. Described as a combination of Craigslist and eBay, the San Francisco startup is now expanding to 1,000 American cities and into Australia. Affordable housing advocates argue that Rentberry’s bidding wars are driving prices up under the guise of free market fairness, with one critic noting, “Just because you can make money off the housing crisis, it doesn’t mean you should.”
Smoke gets in your eyes. Environmental activists in Utah are hoping terminology is the key to winning more climate-friendly policies. While the phrase “climate change” remains politically divisive — despite one survey suggesting around 80 percent of Utahns agree the Earth is getting hotter — nobody can deny the smog in the air. And with doctors estimating as many as 2,000 Utahns die prematurely every year as a result, activists in the Beehive State are now finding “clean-air” a healthy bipartisan stand-in for “climate change.”
It’s all about the green. While activists have long protested white actors being cast in roles described or originally portrayed as Asian — remember Aloha? — Hollywood may finally take notice. Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson as a popular Japanese manga character, sparked not only outrage but a feeble opening-weekend box office of $20 million. With other whitewashed properties sagging and popular Asian actors speaking out about discrimination, this could be a turning point — though some note that international grosses may still pick up the slack.
They could go no further. The Bulldogs won some huge battles, including ending UConn’s 111-game winning streak in the semis, in order to reach the final — but the Gamecocks won the war. On Sunday, South Carolina dominated the final 35 minutes of play in Dallas to become the NCAA Women’s Champions. Coach Dawn Staley finally earned her long-awaited championship, thanks in part to a ferocious shift by A’ja Wilson, who scored 23 points with 10 rebounds to lead her team to its first national title.