A trial stops, some rates rise and the Force is back. It’s Thursday, and here are the 5 things you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door:
FREDDIE GRAY TRIAL
What now?: A mistrial was declared yesterday in the trial of William Porter, one of six Baltimore cops charged in Freddie Gray’s death, and legal analysts say its a major setback for the prosecution. If they wanted to use Porter to help convict the other five officers later on, that strategy is now in serious jeopardy. The judge will soon discuss new trial dates with the lawyers. Gray died last spring after he suffered a neck injury while in police custoday. Baltimore exploded in violence on the day he was buried, but the streets were calm yesterday, with protesters marching peacefully through the city.
Email echo: Here we go again. Another Obama administration official was reportedly using personal email to conduct government business. This time it’s Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who used personal email even after all the flack Hillary Clinton got for using a personal email server during her time as secretary of state. Carter, like Clinton, says he hasn’t put sensitive information in jeopardy.
Up from nothing: Interest rates can go up! We’d almost forgotten, since its been nearly a decade since the Fed has raised rates. The Fed raised its key interest rate by 0.25% yesterday, the first such hike since June 2006. The rates were put at zero in December 2008 to get us through the Great Recession, so this is the clearest sign yet that the economy is getting back on its feet.
Up in arms: The Obama administration OK’d a big arms deal for Taiwan yesterday, but China isn’t feeling it. The $1.83 billion sale — yes, billion, with a B — is the first such sale to the Asian island in four years and features mostly defensive weapons. China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory, said the sale violates international law and vowed to hit the companies involved in the sale with sanctions. That probably won’t matter much, though. The U.S. defense industry already steers clear of doing business with China.
The hype awakens: The Force is, finally, with us. Tonight — 10 years after the last “Star Wars” movie hit the big screen and three years after Disney bought the franchise — the world will finally get to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Fans are beyond pumped, the hype surrounding the film is almost unbearable and the early reviews are spectacular (but so were the ones for “The Phantom Menace,” so keep that in mind). And folks, if you don’t want to fall to spoilers before you see the movie, just stay off social media, OK?
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“It’s what happens when a Greek and a German get married. It’s a cultural disaster”
— Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on his parents and the hard-to-pronounce name they gave him. A name that Ben Carson badly mangled in the last GOP debate. Priebus said he wasn’t offended.
Chicago. Cheap Trick. Deep Purple. Steve Miller. N.W.A. That would be one heck of a concert; they’re also your 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees. The induction ceremony for the rockers and rappers is April 8.
Beijing’s polluted skies spark demand for a most unusual import: fresh air. Canisters of fresh air from the Canadian Rockies are selling like hotcakes in China, at up to $20 a pop. We’re obviously in the wrong business.
Think voters in the U.S. are tired of politics as usual? Voters in a town in Siberia not only don’t want their candidates to have political experience, they don’t even want them to be human. In the mayor’s race, they’re throwing their support to a cat.
What’s for lunch
Here’s what’s coming up later.
Hello hits the road
Rumor has it tickets for Adele’s North American tour go on sale to the general public today. The tour kicks off next summer in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The New Orleans City Council could vote today to remove four Confederate monuments from the city. After the Charleston shooting, the mayor wanted them down, but there’s plenty of opposition to the plan in this Southern city.
Life expectancy in Norway, named best country in the world to live by the United Nations for the 12th year in a row.
And finally …