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Fresh Intelligence: Obama Sends U.S. Troops to Syria, While Republican Candidates Declare War on Trump

Obama Attends Hanover Trade Fair Opening Evening
Okay, 500 troops, then I’m done. Photo: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images/2016 Getty Images

Good morning and welcome to Fresh Intelligence, our roundup of the stories, ideas, and memes you’ll be talking about today. In this edition, U.S. troops head to Syria, Cruz and Kasich gang up on Trump, and Obama talks trade agreements in Germany. Here’s the rundown for Monday, April 25.

Thunderstorms and high winds in the plains states today is just the start of what will be a week of severe weather and maybe even tornadoes. It will also be a stormy, if more mild, week for New York City with rain starting late tonight. []

250 U.S. Troops Will Deploy to Syria, Presumably Put Their Boots on the Ground

Today, the president will announce plans to send 250 additional U.S. troops to Syria to help the Syrians fighting the Islamic State there. We say additional because, although you might not know this, 50 U.S. special-forces soldiers are already there. The announcement comes just a week after the Pentagon said a similar number of soldiers are heading to Iraq. Following the announcement, the president, who is on a state visit to Germany, will meet with the British and Italian prime ministers, the French president, and the German chancellor to discuss the ongoing Syrian civil war. [Reuters]

Charles Koch Praises Clintons, Sanders’s Laughter Almost Audible From Here

Speaking on ABC yesterday, Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and notorious right-wing puppet master, said that in some ways Bill Clinton had been a better president than George W. Bush, allowed that Hillary might be a better president than her Republican counterparts, and compared Trump’s plan to deport Muslims to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews. Charles Koch for VP? [Reuters]

Another Union Comes Out in Support of Sanders
Another major union has thrown its support behind Bernie Sanders. The head of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America not only endorsed the embattled senator but also said he was “the most pro-worker, pro-union presidential candidate I have seen in my lifetime,” and that Bernie in the White House would be a “unique opportunity that workers and unions must not pass up.” See that, Ben Carson? That’s an endorsement. [Politico]

It’s Not Paranoia If They’re Really After You

Ted Cruz and John Kasich have officially joined forces to take on Donald Trump. Both campaigns released statements saying they would cease efforts in states where the other candidate had a better chance of winning, all to keep delegates from Trump. Seeing as Trump has defined himself as a populist candidate running in a rigged system in which everyone is out to get him, it’s not hard to see how this could backfire.

Cruz Understanding How Elections Work Continues to Benefit Him
Cruz has again shown that knowing how to play the game really helps when you’re playing the game. While Trump has been wasting his time winning primaries, Cruz has been successfully operating behind the scenes and picking up most of the delegates, managing to snag 19 out of 20 in Maine and 36 out of 37 in Utah over the weekend. Cruz doesn’t understand why the American people aren’t more impressed with his ability to rig things.

Salesman-in-Chief Visits Germany

President Obama is in Germany giving the country the hard sell over the trans-Atlantic trade deal, the president’s pet project that is really really unpopular in Germany. To show off his love of business, the president will also join German chancellor Angela Merkel in overseeing the opening of the world’s largest industrial trade fair in Hamburg. [NYT]

Google Wants an Innovation Monopoly
Google CEO Sundar Pichai has announced plans to create an in-house start-up incubator. This way if people have disruptions — doesn’t Silicon Valley call ideas disruptions now? — they can be developed at Google and not become future competitors. [The Information]

Watch That Can Order Pizza Is a Hit
Time flies … off the shelves! Despite the Apple Watch’s spotty reputation, Apple actually sold more watches than phones last year. This is either very good news for the Apple Watch or very bad news for the iPhone. [WSJ]

Dark Days Ahead for the Department Store
Green Street Advisors, a real-estate research firm, has found that department stores will need to close one fifth of their locations in U.S. malls if they want to get back to the productivity levels they enjoyed in 2006. That’s about 800 stores. [WSJ]

Really Wanna Dis Jay Z? Download Lemonade on iTunes

Tidal really loves throwing around that word “exclusive,” but just like Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, which premiered on HBO and Tidal over the weekend, will be available today in the Apple Store. Believe it or not the video has proven really popular. [CNet]

Following in the Footsteps of That Tex-Mex Place and Your Mother, Vox Launches a Facebook Page
Vox is doing what Facebook has been really hoping more companies would do: launching its newest platform as a standalone Facebook page. Called Circuit Breaker, the page will be modeled on an old-school gadget blog, and its stories will also run on other Vox sites. [NYT]

N.W.A Reunites As Dr. Dre’s Backup Band
The much-speculated-about N.W.A reunion finally happened over the weekend at Coachella, and it went okay. Yes, they were all there — including Eazy-E’s son — and they did perform, but they only played songs from Dr. Dre’s solo repertoire. That must not have been awkward at all. [AV Club]

It Beats Kissing Babies
Clinton has really upped her selfie game this go ’round — we’re sure this one turned out well.

It’s all about the angle. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

This Meme Is Actually Kind of a Spoiler
Sorry, but it’s just so on point.

History Repeats Itself in Austin

Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Austin, Texas, is looking for a new name — we guess after 150 years people are starting to find the Confederacy less cool — and in good, democratic American fashion it asked the people to vote. And guess what? Robert E. Lee still came in second place, with only Donald Trump getting more votes. Oh, and Adolf Hitler School for Friendship and Tolerance managed to get eight nominations. Humans! [Fox]

Eccentric Explorer’s Bubble Burst
Remember that Floridian endurance runner who set off for the Bermuda Triangle in a seafaring plastic bubble he designed? Well, things went about as well as you probably guessed. He was rescued by the coast guard — again — off the coast of Florida on Sunday. [CBS]

This Is the Way the World Ends, Not With a Bang But With a Kind of Popping Sound

Warriors wunderkind Stephen Curry will have an MRI today after a pretty rough fall during yesterday’s game against the Rockets resulted in a sprained knee. To say fans will be eagerly awaiting the results is a pretty serious understatement. [CBS]

Trump, Clinton, and Sanders Head to Philadelphia
Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump all have rallies planned in the Philadelphia area today in advance of Pennsylvania’s primary tomorrow. So far, it looks like both Trump and Clinton have commanding leads in the state. [Philly Voice]

Saudi Arabia to Pivot Away From Oil, What They Will Pivot Toward Still Unclear
All eyes are on Saudi Arabia today where Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will release his plan to reduce the Saudi economy’s dependence on oil. His plan could have serious repercussions for the global economy. [NYT]

Fresh Intelligence: 200 Troops Bound for Syria