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Need To Know.
Baltimore Book Scandal.
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (D) has taken an indefinite leave of absence as she weathers accusations of self-dealing. While Pugh said the decision was due to a case of pneumonia, the move comes amid accusations that health organizations for which she sat on the Board of Directors purchased large quantities of the mayor's self-published children's book series, Healthy Holly. At the center of the scandal is $500,000 in non-competitive orders made by the University of Maryland Medical System, one of the state's largest private employers, dating back to 2011. It was further revealed yesterday that health provider Kaiser Permanente paid Pugh $114,000 and the city's Associated Black Charities paid $90,000 to purchase books. Critics said that because Pugh held either held leadership positions with these groups, or was in a position to provide influence as mayor, money flowing to her self-published business represents a major conflict of interest. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan called on the state prosecutor's office to investigate the deals.
The children of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi have received monthly five-figure sums and million dollar homes in Saudi Arabia following the killing of their father, according to reports yesterday. Originally reported by The Washington Post, Khashoggi's two sons and two daughters may also receive up to tens of millions of dollars in negotiations as his alleged murderers are tried by Saudi courts. Khashoggi, a frequent critic of the Saudi government who was living in the US at the time, was assassinated by a Saudi hit squad last October inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul (see timeline). The Saudi government originally claimed to have had no role in his disappearance, but ultimately flip-flopped, arresting 18 Saudis said to have been involved. US intelligence ultimately concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered the killing himself.
Separately, Amazon security personnel believe that Saudi officials hacked CEO's Jeff Bezos' phone and gave racy texts to the National Enquirer - possibly in retaliation for dogged coverage of the killing by The Post, also owned by Bezos.
US officials said yesterday that up to 2,000 inspectors currently screening cargo and vehicles may be reassigned to help process an influx of Central American migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border. The shift comes as border patrol agents say the system is overcapacity with migrants seeking asylum - officials expect over 100,000 apprehensions and encounters with migrants in March, the highest monthly total in more than a decade. Migrants are legally required to be released by Border Patrol within 72 hours, who usually turns them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement - as ICE facilities become overcrowded, migrant families have been released to local shelters. President Trump has threatened to close the border if Mexico doesn’t act to stem the arrivals - at minimum, the reassignments are expected to slow travel at the ports of entry, which see an estimated $1.7B in commerce everyday.
> Magician David Blaine under investigation by NYPD for alleged sexual assault against two women (More)
> We Will Rock You musical inspired by Queen announces revival North American tour beginning September 2019; see full tour dates and locations (More)
> Notre Dame, Baylor win Elite Eight match-ups; join Oregon and UCONN in NCAA Women's Final Four (More) | University of Kentucky signs men's head coach John Calipari to lifetime deal (More)
Science & Technology.
> Scientists identify “extinction neurons”, which suppress fearful memories when activated in the brain (More)
> New model challenges the view that life on Earth began with single-stranded RNA; demonstrates both RNA and DNA molecules could've been present over 4 billion years ago (More)
> Once thought implausible, presence of mysterious methane sources on Mars confirmed; unknown whether sources are geological or biological (More)
Business & Markets.
> US stock markets up (S&P 500 +1.2%, Dow +1.3%, Nasdaq +1.3%) as China's manufacturing strength eases global growth worries (More)
> Saudi Aramco - Saudi Arabia's national oil company - tops Apple as world's most profitable company (More)
> Kellogg to divest Keebler & Famous Amos brands to Ferrero, Italian food giant & owner of Nutella (More)
Politics & World Affairs.
> In interview with House Oversight Committee, staffer alleges at least 25 denied security clearances were reversed, granted approval by White House officials (More) | Potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden accused by second woman of inappropriate touching (More)
> United Kingdom Parliament rejects four alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit package, with 12 days to go before UK must leave European Union (More)
> Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's party suffers stunning defeat in municipal elections across country, including in Istanbul and Ankara (More)
The Day the Dinosaurs Died.
The New Yorker | Douglas Preston. 66 million years ago, a massive asteroid impact covered the Earth in a thin layer of ash and soot that now marks the end of the Cretaceous period in the fossil record. This layer, known as the KT boundary, has long perplexed paleontologists. Now a graduate student may have found the field's holy grail - a snapshot from the day the asteroid struck Earth. (Read)
50 Years of Affirmative Action: What Went Right, and What It Got Wrong.
New York Times | Anemona Hartocollis. In the last 50 years, affirmative action has become dramatically more sophisticated - though even with the best intentions, many missteps have been made. See inside affirmative action's finest achievements and largest failures. (Read)
Historybook: Ponce de Leon is first European in Florida (1513); Singer Marvin Gaye born (1939); Rita Johnston becomes 1st female Premier of a Canadian province (1991); RIP Pope John Paul II (2005); RIP Winnie Mandela, activist and ex-wife of Nelson Mandela (2018).
"I stand defiant, tall and strong." - Winnie Mandela
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