MH17
July 18, 2014
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

With the downing of Flight 17 over Ukraine on Thursday, Malaysia Airlines has lost two Boeing 777s and 537 people in the course of six months. "A double tragedy of this nature after such a short period is unheard of in the industry,'' Vivian Lines, a crisis-management expert, told The Wall Street Journal. "They were the wrong airline in the wrong place at the wrong time.''

Passengers are understandably spooked. They are already taking steps to avoid flying Malaysia Airlines, according to The New York Times:

The financial penalty on Malaysia Airlines seemed clear on Friday morning when two planes, one from Cathay Pacific and one from Malaysia Airlines, left Hong Kong International Airport five minutes apart, both bound for Kuala Lumpur. The Cathay Pacific flight was sold out in every class of service, and was so overbooked that the airline took the unusual step of calling at least one passenger at home the night before and telling him that he had been involuntarily bounced to the flight operated by Malaysia Airlines, with which Cathay Pacific has a shared marketing code.

By contrast, the Malaysia Airlines flight was at least one-third empty. [The New York Times]

Even before Flight 370 disappeared mysteriously in March, the airline's parent company was struggling, losing $139.5 million in the first quarter, up significantly from the previous year.

This just in
8:09 a.m. ET

An early vote count from Nigeria's election has opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari ahead of President Goodluck Jonathan by two million votes. While the lead is formidable, many of the country's large states in the south have not declared their results yet. A former military ruler whose defeat in the last election resulted in rioting that left 800 dead, Buhari has made fighting the Islamist militant group Boko Haram a centerpiece of his campaign. If Buhari wins, Jonathan would be Nigeria's first incumbent to lose a presidential election. —Meghan DeMaria

Iran and the bomb
7:24 a.m. ET

The self-imposed deadline for a framework deal on Iran's nuclear program is midnight Tuesday (6 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast), and State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf puts the odds of a deal at 50-50. And while there is some speculation that the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, could continue into Wednesday, "March 31 is the deadline," Harf told reporters. "It has to mean something. And the decisions don't get easier after March 31."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov — who is rejoining his counterparts from Iran, the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, and China on Tuesday — put the odds of success considerably higher. "They are probably not 100 percent but you can never be 100 percent certain of anything," he told Russian media before heading back to Lausanne for the final push. "The odds are quite 'doable' if none of the parties raise the stakes at the last minute." If an agreement is reached, the details won't have to be ironed out until the end of June.

Quotables
6:11 a.m. ET

Tuesday's edition of The Indianapolis Star has an unusual front page editorial on Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Under a massive headline, "Fix This Now," the editorial says that the law "already has done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future," and urges "bold action" to fix the problem. Karen Ferguson, The Star's president and publisher, underscored the urgency:

The governors of Washington and Connecticut have already banned state-sponsored travel to Indiana, several companies have condemned the law, and the NCAA is under pressure to criticize the law or even move the college basketball finals from Indianapolis to another city. On Monday, the Republican leaders of the General Assembly said they would try to "clarify" the law so it won't be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

"Half steps will not be enough," The Indianapolis Star said. "Half steps will not undo the damage" to Indiana's image, "reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome," and yearslong effort "to attract talented workers and thriving businesses." Repealing the law isn't politically feasible, the paper says, but "Gov. Mike Pence and the General Assembly need to enact a state law to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity." Read the entire editorial at The Indianapolis Star.

Want
5:06 a.m. ET

Forget those alarm clocks that you can plug your iPhone into — isn't your smartphone an alarm clock by itself? — because waking up to your favorite song or podcast or ringtone is nothing compared with waking up to a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Meet the Barisieur, created by designer Joshua Renouf:

The stylish alarm clock not only heats up water, siphons it over your favorite ground beans, and filters it into a cup, but the Barisieur also has a special refrigerated vial to hold your milk and a drawer for your sugar, if you're into anything other than black coffee. And it plays the radio, too. There are two downsides: The Barisieur isn't available for purchase yet, and when it does go on sale, hopefully sometime in 2015, it will cost about $300-375. That's still cheaper than hiring a live-in barista. For more photos, visit the JR Industrial Design site.

Watch this
4:06 a.m. ET

Van Halen, with David Lee Roth back as frontman, is releasing a new album, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, on Tuesday. On Monday, they shut down part of Hollywood Blvd. to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live. If you're wondering why Roth's nose is bandaged, he smacked it with a microphone in their first take of "Panama." He makes a joke about it halfway through the version below, but his bloodied nose doesn't stop the 60-year-old rocker from kicking and singing his way through the song. And Eddie Van Halen's guitar work is pretty close to the same as it was when Roth left the band in 1985. Watch below. —Peter Weber

RIP
3:23 a.m. ET

On Sunday, police found the body of Spence Jackson, the media director for Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, about a month after Schweich apparently killed himself hours before a planned news conference to accuse the head of the Missouri Republican Party of waging an anti-Semitic smear campaign against him. Jackson, 44, was discovered inside his locked apartment in Jefferson City, shot dead in an apparent suicide, according to Jefferson City Police Capt. Doug Shoemaker.

Police are treating Jackson's death as a suicide, though they aren't ruling out other causes of death, and they aren't releasing the contents of a note found near Jackson's body. Schweich, a Republican, was running for governor, and after his death, Jackson called on Missouri GOP Chairman John Hancock to resign. Shoemaker has more information about the case in the news conference below. —Peter Weber

News you can use
2:36 a.m. ET

If you're looking for a brief recap of why people are getting worked up over Indiana's new "Religious Freedom Restoration" law, preferably with some jokes thrown in, Seth Meyers has you covered. On Monday night's Late Night, Meyers explained the controversial law, why people think it will lead to anti-gay discrimination, how it differs from similar federal and state laws, and why Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) is an ineffective spokesman for the bill he signed last week. Or, you could just watch for the jokes. —Peter Weber

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