Water, water everywhere. Last year’s drought in the region is no more: Several people have been swept away by days of torrential rains. At least 170 flights into Texas airports were cancelled, and workers battled blocked roads to try to restore power to 100,000 homes. Barack Obama promised federal help for Texas as the tragic stories poured in: A homecoming queen, a 14-year-old boy and a veteran firefighter were among the confirmed dead, and at least a dozen are still missing, meaning the death toll is likely to rise.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It was over in six seconds. But the tornado that killed at least 15, including three children, in Ciudad Acuña will be remembered for years. A baby is missing, nearly 90 have been hospitalized and 60 homes have been destroyed after ferocious winds — unlike anything seen in over a century — hit the border town made famous in films like Desperado. The devastation, coinciding with deadly floods in the American Southwest, will see President Enrique Pena Nieto visit northern Mexico, where he is pledging national assistance.
Financial aid turned into a financial raid. A record-finding tool called Get Transcript meant to be used for downloading old returns for use in mortgage and loan applications has instead been hacked by identity thieves, who downloaded personal financial information on a hundred thousand taxpayers — only half the number they attempted to access before the tool was shut down — using previously stolen information like social security numbers and purchasing histories, which may indicate organized crime connections. The IRS will be mailing letters to anyone who was affected starting this week.
They could be on the fast-track out. Prime Minister David Cameron is set to announce a public referendum Wednesday on the UK remaining part of the EU. Cameron’s conservatives, who have a slim majority, are hoping to push the bill through the House of Commons and hold a public vote as early as 2016. Scotland voted to remain in the UK last year, but it’s now grumbling that the UK’s component parts should have veto power over a Brexit. It’s a non-starter, but it could pave the way for Scotland’s independence in case of UK secession.
Is the fourth time a charm? Time Warner Cable’s recent history is filled with feints, but Charter Communications is nearing a deal. America’s third-largest cable provider has tried three times to join up with TWC, but now a $56 billion buyout is in the making, including a stock-and-cash deal, a simultaneous merger with Bright House Networks — and a $2 billion breakup fee if the deal doesn’t work out. If the deal goes through, it would consolidate three of the top 10 U.S. cable companies serving a whopping 23 million customers.
They’re not crossing the border yet. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to lift a hold on the president’s executive action on immigration that would delay deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants. While the New Orleans court agreed that the 26 aggrieved states had the right to challenge the program as an executive overstep, it doesn’t mean the reforms are dead in the water. But the administration will have to work hard to show the delays will be harmful — and not just to Obama’s potential legacy.
They need to change their ways. Federal investigators reportedly found a pattern of unconstitutional policing and excessive force that will require the Ohio city’s police to adopt mandatory reforms. The settlement comes just after the acquittal for manslaughter of Michael Brelo, one of 13 officers who fired 137 rounds into a car, killing two unarmed black occupants. Details of the city’s agreement may come today, with officials expected to ask that Cleveland welcome independent monitors to oversee policing changes, backed by court orders for better training and revised use-of-force policies.
The mercury has surged as high as 118 degrees Fahrenheit, killing hundreds across the subcontinent. Most of the victims have been homeless, dying from direct sun exposure, and two taxi drivers have succumbed in Kolkata, leading to restrictions on uncooled cabs. Authorities are struggling to get drinking water to the masses, warning folks to stay inside during peak hours and promising to compensate victims’ families. But with temperatures likely to remain high until the start of monsoon season next week, they also fear the death toll will rise.
Anti-establishment candidates win in Spain’s local elections. (NYT)
Al-Shabab claims to kill 25 Kenyan police officers. (Al Jazeera)
Russia takes to the sky for four-day air force exercise. (BBC)
Family suspects B.B. King was poisoned, lawyer dismisses claim. (The Guardian)
U.S. reporter’s espionage trial begins in Iran, closed to public. (WP)
He’s ushering in a golden era. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov says his goal was merely “to serve the people and the Motherland” with a new 69-foot gilded monument of himself poised astride a horse and carrying a dove. The former dentist, in power since 2006, insists it was a response to public demand for his likeness. But the leader of the famously repressive Central Asian state — with the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves — apparently didn’t have time on Monday to serve his people by attending the unveiling.
Beware the big, bad wolf. A mile-high peak in the Galapagos Islands, the Wolf volcano, began erupting yesterday for the first time in 33 years, threatening the world’s only population of pink iguanas. The reptiles — numbering fewer than 100 — were discovered in 1986 on Isabela Island, the largest in the archipelago that famously inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution with its biodiversity. The lava is reportedly flowing down the southern face of the volcano, away from where the lizards live, and Galapagos National Park officials have flown out to investigate.
His new title doesn’t really compete with the old one: Sir Jony Ive. But the British-born designer credited with creating Apple’s distinctive aesthetic has advanced from routine management as Senior VP of Design into a brand new role as Chief Design Officer. The promotion will see Ive undertake big-picture thinking full-time — similar to the role once filled by founder Steve Jobs — and lead the company’s present and future projects. Analysts see this as a symbolic vote of confidence as Apple speeds ahead.
This isn’t very funny. Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science may be a semi-satirical journal, but it offered real data in its analysis of all the characters in cartoons published by The New Yorker in 2014. Of 1,810 humans represented, 71 percent were male — with women often represented as wives and assistants — and 95 percent were white. There might be a simple solution to redrawing the gender lines: Only 12 of 70 cartoonists were women, but they proved much more likely to draw female characters.
They changed this rocket’s fuel. After a weak performance in Saturday’s devastating Game 3 loss, Rockets star James Harden caught fire with a playoff career-high 45 points in yesterday’s win-or-go-home game in the Western Conference finals. The Warriors, who were shaken in the second quarter when league MVP Stephen Curry missed 12 minutes after landing on his head in a collision, lost 128-115. As the series returns to Oakland, Houston hopes to become the first team in NBA history to win a playoff series after trailing 3-0.