Hours before a high-stakes sit-down between the U.S. and Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the opinion page of the New York Times to “speak directly to the American people” and counter President Obama’s case for intervention in Syria. Putin claims his main goal is ”protecting … international law,” but many worry he has ulterior motives — like buying time for allies in Damascus, reclaiming Russia’s role on the world stage, or just making life difficult for his superpower rival. Is Obama being played by a Russian grandmaster, or could this all be part of a master plan to bring Russia to the table and avoid another Iraq or Afghanistan? Syria’s fate remains to be seen, but prompting a Russian leader to decry “brute force,” and observe that “God created us equal” must count for something. Maybe it’s Putin who is painting himself into a corner behind multiple “red lines.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
The war on Syria may be on the back burner, but the Obama administration is pressing ahead with the “war on coal.” Next week the Environmental Protection Agency will release its long-awaited ruling on emissions standards, which will limit the carbon dioxide emitted by coal-fired power plants to about half of current production levels. The new rule will undoubtedly face legal challenges from a coal industry already reeling from the boom in natural gas, but with power plants accounting for one-third of America’s greenhouse gas emissions, the standard would go a long way toward enabling Obama to meet his goal of cutting emissions 17% by 2020.
With a November meeting of senior Communist Party leaders likely to prove a turning point for China’s economic model, investors are leaning in extra close to hear whatever sneak previews Premier Li Keqiang might offer. In a closed-door session at the World Economic Forum’s “Summer Davos” in Dalian, Li acknowledged that the host nation had reached a crucial stage of restructuring. He hinted the country would seek to rebalance the relationship between government and the private sector through market-based interest rates, intellectual property safeguards, and opening up the banking and telecom sectors to greater competition. Looks, walks and quacks like Peking duck, but will the implied reforms taste like one when the final dish comes out of the Party oven this fall?
With AT&T deleting and apologizing for its “tribute” ad combining a smartphone with a memorial of the 9/11 attacks, Verizon selling a record $49 billion in bonds to help finance its deal with Vodaphone, and Apple stock taking a 5 percent haircut as Wall Street weighed in on the new iPhones, it was a busy day in Telecom Land. To top it all off, the EU announced that it will ban cell phone roaming charges across member states as it moves toward a single telecom market, and The Guardian revealed that phone records and other intelligence data soaked up by the NSA are shared with Israel, including information about U.S. citizens.
More than 200 years after his death, the remains of a farm worker known as Mr. Fortune will lie in state at Connecticut’s Capitol rotunda before being buried at the church where he was baptized. He will spend eternity alongside the kind of prominent residents he and other slaves once served during their lifetimes. The elaborate celebration – bagpipers in tow — is meant to represent the honors denied all American slaves. But its worth remembering that slavery exists still — just today, UN experts slammed “slavery-like” relationships among black families in Mauritania, an important Western ally in Africa.
How does a group that shelled out a quarter of a billion dollars during the 2012 elections escape the attention of “almost everyone in politics”? It helps to have bottomless reserves and years of experience cultivating mystery — in other words, to be named Koch. A Politico report outs industrialist brothers Charles and David as the driving forces behind the little-known Freedom Partners, whose upcoming IRS filing serves as a “Rosetta stone of the vast web of conservative groups.” President Marc Short says the group’s members are proud of their efforts — but apparently not proud enough to be publicly named. Maybe because they don’t have much to show for all that dough?
Despite the 850 million people in the grip of hunger worldwide, each year the planet leaves one-third of its food to rot, or roughly 1.4 billion tons — that’s more than two million aircraft carriers’ worth of wasted food. China, Japan, and Korea waste the most vegetables, while the U.S., Europe, and Latin America account for 80 percent of wasted meat. The bright side? If we address our waste problem, we may not need to increase food production by 60 percent by 2050 in order to feed the world’s expanding population. But that will require tackling crop dumping, expiration dates, large portions, and excessive shopping.
In region known for honor killings and child marriages, gender equality is not often a hot topic of conversation among men. But two male feminists have set out to change that with a provocative campaign featuring photos of Kurdish men in dresses and jewelry, accessorized with signs that promote women’s rights. The move is part of a larger political rebuke of the Iranian regime, which has long suppressed Kurds; as founder Masoud Fathi says, “If one part of us is unfree, our whole cannot be free.” And it’s a welcome gesture amid increasingly dire reports of women’s struggles around the globe.
When the television gods close one door, they open another. For everyone anxious about the upcoming finale of the long-running hit Breaking Bad, AMC has good news: they are going forward with Better Call Saul, a prequel about Walter White’s shady lawyer, Saul Goodman, starring Bob Odenkirk. With hits Breaking Bad and Mad Men both coming to an end, AMC will have a lot riding on the project. But many questions still remain for viewers: Will the comic sidekick be able to carry his own show? Will a prequel work? And, most importantly, when will it come out?
As the stories of Johnny Manziel, D.J. Fluker, Luther Davis, and more pile up at the feet of NCAA officials and college administrators, they continue to cling to the ideal of college athletes as amateurs. But these amateur athletes make professional-level sums for their universities – and don’t see a penny of it themselves. Sportswriter Dan Wetzel looks at the history of amateur sportsmen, from British working class cricketers to world-class Olympians, and finds that the arguments for ”amateur” status serve many interests, but rarely those of the athletes themselves.
Source: Yahoo Sports