The Straits of Florida may be running a little warmer Monday. That’s when the United States and Cuba will resume formal diplomatic relations, ending a half-century freeze that almost sparked a nuclear exchange and saw thousands of Cubans flee their homeland — including four athletes last weekend. The road to normalized relations will be “long and complex,” said Cuban President Raul Castro. For President Obama, it will involve convincing Congress to lift a trade embargo and negotiating over nationalized American property and the return of the base at Guantánamo Bay.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s just the beginning, says former CIA chief John McLaughlin, of a “very long journey of testing and negotiation.” For all the rhetoric from U.S. lawmakers and Tehran hard-liners, the accord will likely be approved on both sides of the Atlantic. But the result will depend on how well the U.N. enforces compliance. If successful, it should prevent the Islamic Republic from secretly making a nuclear bomb for more than a decade. But if Iran cheats, it’ll lead to more tense talks and fighting. Either way, few expect warmer U.S.-Iranian relations anytime soon.
The continent is mended, for now. As the sun rose Monday, a chastened Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yielded to Germany and other creditor nations and inked a deal that included hard-core financial reforms that Greek voters recently rejected. Then Tsipras convinced his parliament to swallow that bitter pill, with German lawmakers following suit Friday, thus dissolving major stumbling blocks for the third — and final, according to Germany’s finance minister — bailout. But there are grave doubts, with the IMF urging debt relief and some even suggesting Germany, not Greece, should leave the eurozone.
One country’s storm cloud is another’s silver lining. China’s stock market crash has been scary and painful, but it’s a ray of sunshine for nations that are gaining manufacturing business, such as Mexico and India. China’s rapid growth — which helped precipitate its $3 trillion meltdown — has driven up its labor costs, so carmakers from GM to BMW have been expanding operations in Mexico, where it’s cheaper and more convenient. China’s slowdown has also driven down oil and other commodity prices, so while exporters complain, it’s a bright day for consumers everywhere.
Base shooter sent friend Islamic verse ‘declaring war.’ (Reuters)
Egypt clashes leave 59 rebels, seven soldiers dead. (Al Jazeera)
Mitsubishi to apologize for WW2 POW forced labor. (AP)
Donald Trump under fire for scorning John McCain’s captivity. (WP)
Bill Cosby admitted using sedatives to ‘seduce’ women. (NYT)
As authorities mount an epic manhunt for Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the kingpin better known as “El Chapo,” experts say an even more dangerous figure is on the loose. He has never been arrested but is considered the most ruthless of them all: Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka El Mencho. He’s risen in recent years to commanding heights in the Mexican narcotrafficking world. In the process, he’s developed foxlike dexterity and military prowess that may make him even harder than Guzman to take down.
Californians are the lucky ones. Their northern neighbors in Washington and Oregon have a 1-in-10 chance of a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that could kill 13,000 people in the next 50 years, seismologists say. Much of the population lives atop the Cascadia subduction zone, a tectonic junction nobody knew about 45 years ago. Quakes there occur once every few hundred years, and none have been felt in recorded history. That’s part of the problem: getting people to fear — and prepare for — something no one can remember.
He says he’s not a criminal. But on Wednesday, a German court convicted Oskar Groening, 94, on 300,000 counts of accessory to murder. He may be the only surviving Nazi SS officer to specify what he saw — and did — at Auschwitz, including selecting which deportees were fit for forced labor, and who’d be gassed immediately. He says witnessing savagery, especially against children, was so upsetting he requested a transfer to the front, which was denied. His accounts continue to spark outrage, more so now that he’s received a mere four-year jail term.
Everyone loved him. Harper Lee used a child’s perspective to paint the character of Atticus Finch as a champion of civil rights in her beloved 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. But in her “new” Go Set a Watchman, she reveals that Atticus was a white supremacist. Reviewers have called the long-delayed novel, written before her classic work, “deeply mediocre,” while others insist Lee — who may have a third novel tucked away — doesn’t betray Mockingbird ; rather, Watchman’ s narrator sees Atticus through adult eyes.
Can surfers be civilized? The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee has short-listed hanging 10 for Olympic competition, but devotees aren’t sure. Some say surfing is more art than sport, and Olympicizing it will turn it into a mere novelty, “like teaching a cat to use a toilet.” Then there are practical considerations, like adequate waves materializing on schedule and the un-Zen prospect of surfing in a chlorinated wave pool. But Olympic advocates say that with surfing’s multibillion-dollar industry and corporate-endorsed competitions, the sport has already gone mainstream.