The president arrived in Poland today for meetings aimed at reassuring NATO allies unnerved by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. He said the U.S. commitment to the security of European allies was “a cornerstone of our own security.” Obama met with U.S. and Polish pilots who are conducting joint patrols of the Baltic states and will later meet with newly elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Later in the week, the president will be in Brussels for the Group of Seven summit, where he is expected to encourage the EU to maintain its sanctions against Russia.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The City Council of Seattle has voted unanimously to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour, the highest in the nation and more than twice the federal minimum. The council chambers were packed with excited workers waving banners saying “Seattle needs a raise.” The law goes into effect April 1, 2015, and will be phased in over the next three to seven years, depending on the size of the business. Labor advocates hailed the vote and said it will likely encourage others cities to follow suit. San Diego, Chicago and San Francisco are considering minimum wage hikes.
The computer giant has launched its new operating systems, iOS 8 for mobile and Yosemite for Macs, aimed at streamlining day-to-day tasks and improving compatibility. The unveiling, which took place yesterday at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, highlighted a number of new features, including a health hub for pulling information from various apps that measure and store health data. Partnering with the Mayo Clinic, Apple will enable users to check their health stats against expert charts. Other changes aim to improve group messaging and app sharing, to name just a few.
Syria’s presidential election gets under way. (Al Jazeera).
White House plan for cutting carbon emissions relies on states. (NYT).
EU faces humanitarian crisis as migrants risk treacherous sea crossings. (The Guardian).
Australian artist detained after pork Tiananmen exhibit. (SMH).
Spanish republicans challenge monarchy after abdication. (France 24).
Protesters in Thailand have appropriated a defiant gesture — a three-finger salute used in The Hunger Games films — to express their opposition to last month’s military coup. In the series’ second film, the hand gesture was used to signal silent protest against the fictional authoritarian state Panem. In Thailand, where quashed rights to free expression are very real, coup leaders are mulling over whether to detain those who defy them with the salute. A woman was reportedly arrested over the weekend for making the gesture.
NASA’s Kepler space telescope has located a “Godzilla of Earths” that scientists didn’t believe could exist. The newly identified rocky planet — dubbed Kepler-10c — is 17 times heavier than Earth with a diameter 2.3 times larger, and it circles a sun-like star. Scientists figured the formation of such a planet was impossible because it would suck up hydrogen gas as it grew, becoming a gas giant like Jupiter. Kepler-10c — located about 560 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco — defies that theory.
No one will have been surprised that Sony Pictures Entertainment bought the rights to Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide. After all, it was just a matter of time before the NSA whistleblower’s story hit the big screen. But now Oliver Stone has announced that he is working on a screenplay based on The Snowden Files, a book published earlier this year by Guardian reporter Luke Harding. The competition between the two films is sure to be intense — Greenwald has publicly criticized his former colleague’s book.
Gender bias can be deadly, especially when it involves the most powerful female of all: Mother Nature. A new study reveals that hurricanes given female names, such as Hanna or Fay, are perceived as less threatening, leading people to take fewer protective measures. Consequently, they tend to be deadlier. Of the 47 most-damaging hurricanes over the last six decades, female-named ones were responsible for an average of 45 deaths compared with 23 deaths caused by storms with male names. The lesson? Set sexism aside and get out of harm’s way.
The Miami Dolphins legend — one of the game’s greatest and most visible former players — has joined the concussion suit against the NFL. The lawsuit, which alleges the league concealed brain trauma information and misled players, is part of ongoing litigation between the NFL and nearly 5,000 retired athletes. The league reached a settlement with former players for $765 million last year, but a federal judge denied preliminary approval of the damages, noting that the figure may be too low.