New Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko made history today by signing a pact binding Ukraine with the EU. This is the same deal his predecessor backed away from last year, sparking the Euromaidan protests that led to Russian involvement and Crimea’s secession. Moscow vehemently opposed the deal, with one Russian official even labeling Poroshenko a “Nazi.” But Ukrainians can take the name-calling in stride knowing they’ll now enjoy a free trade agreement, slashed import tariffs and help with political and economic reform.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The president has asked Congress for $500 million to fund Syrian rebels, signaling to lawmakers a plan to step up efforts to quash growing instability in the region. Obama wants a clear line drawn between Iraq and Syria, and is willing to train and equip the rebels to retain the land they now hold, but he remains ambivalent about direct intervention. Republicans responded, noting that funding without a clear strategy was useless.
The U.S. Supreme Court focused on some specific numbers in two unanimous decisions yesterday. First, the justices held that the president violated the constitution in 2012 when he made recess appointments during short three-day Senate breaks. Making appointments during longer breaks of 10 days or more was still permissible. The court also struck down a Massachusetts law banning protesters within 35ft of an abortion clinic. The court ruled that the buffer zone infringed on the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights.
Could Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s financial plan to pull Japan out of two decades of stagnation be bearing fruit? He enjoyed good news today, with the nation’s jobless rate hitting a 16-year low. Household spending, however, has proven sluggish, falling eight percent this year. Some are buying less following a May tax hike, but with more jobs all around, analysts believe a rebound is in store for the world’s third-largest economy.
Germany wins, but U.S. still advances in World Cup. (DW)
EU summit set to confirm EC presidential candidate Juncker. (BBC)
Former Sen. Majority Leader Howard Baker dies aged 88. (NYT)
Michigan boy missing for two weeks found alive at home. (CNN)
Investors shun Barclays’ ‘Dark Pool.’ (WSJ)
Right-wing politico Ann Coulter has deemed the Beautiful Game “un-American” and said it’s destroying the nation. Immigrants have foisted soccer upon the nation, she said, noting that nobody with a U.S.-born great-grandfather followed the game. The millions who tuned in for yesterday’s World Cup match were apparently just an anomaly. Coulter claims it’s not a real sport because it doesn’t involve major injuries or “personal humiliation.” Does that mean political commentating is now a sport?
Alcohol abuse accounts for one in 10 working-age American deaths, according to a CDC report. Between 2006 and 2010, excessive drinking — binge drinking, regular and copious consumption, and drinking while pregnant — caused the deaths of 88,000 Americans between the ages of 20 and 64, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $224 billion a year. Men fared worst, constituting 71 percent of the deaths.
The “North Korea of Africa” wins top prize for poor technological progress, according to the UN’s International Telecommunication Union. The six-million strong, Pennsylvania-sized country suffers a harsh dictatorship and some of the worst tech infrastructure and barriers to communication on the planet. Only one percent of Eritreans have a landline, 5.6 percent have cell phones, and just one percent brave the Internet. They’re not afraid of government surveillance so much as the painfully slow dial-up speeds.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has invited 271 people to join its elite group of film professionals. The diverse selection reflects a conscious effort to bring in new voices, according to Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy’s first African-American president. More than 100 of this year’s list, which includes Barkhad Abdi, Pharrell Williams and Lupita Nyong’o, are either women, foreign-born, young or non-white. As of 2012, the Academy was 77 percent male and 94 percent white.
Canadian standout Andrew Wiggins came into college as pro basketball’s presumptive top pick, but his early struggles at Kansas raised doubts. Duke’s Jabari Parker came on strong, but his defense worried many. A foot fracture knocked Wiggins’ teammate, Cameroon-native Joel Embiid, out of the top spot. But come draft night, Wiggins went first overall to Cleveland, followed by Parker and Embiid. A moving tribute was paid to Isaiah Austin, whose recently discovered Marfan syndrome ended his career.