On Wednesday, for the first time in 54 years, a top American official will fly directly to Cuba. Two days later, Secretary of State John Kerry will preside over the raising of the Stars and Stripes at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, marking the end of more than a half-century of estrangement from the Caribbean nation. But clouds are already darkening the ceremony, after a recent investigation found that political considerations lifted Cuba’s human-trafficking ratings in a State Department report. Looks like Kerry will have some explaining to do.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They came, they spoke, they survived. But party front-runner Donald Trump’s unusually tame behavior couldn’t last. Within a day of Thursday’s GOP debate, Trump tweeted vitriol against Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly’s “ridiculous questions” and told an interviewer Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever,” during the event. While OZY co-founder Carlos Watson observes that John Kasich, Ben Carson and Rand Paul scored some debating points, Trump lost his campaign guru and got himself disinvited from speaking at the Red State Gathering of key party organizers this weekend in Atlanta.
Are they on the right track? The discovery this week of a flaperon, later “confirmed” by Malaysian authorities to be part of the missing aircraft, breathed life back into the 17-month-long search. But the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau has announced that it’s continuing its seafloor search thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean. Floating debris, in other words, says little about the wreckage’s true location and is less likely to provide answers. Without more to go on, searchers must continue their needle-in-a-haystack mission.
The days of wine and Reagan are over. The former Soviet leader remembers 1980s negotiators drinking alcohol “by the liter” while hammering out nuclear arms limitations in Geneva. That history is a reminder that determined American and Russian leaders can make progress. But as OZY’s John McLaughlin notes, agreements like the new one to limit Iran’s nuclear program can be violated, as North Korea did in 1994. It may seem hopeless, Mikhail Gorbachev says in a new interview, but if we ignore such weapons, “sooner or later, they will be used.”
Pro football Hall of Famer, broadcaster Frank Gifford dies at 84. (NYT)
Five Children among eight found slain after Texas shootout. (AP)
Ferguson marks first anniversary of Michael Brown death. (BBC)
Pentagon sends jets, 300 service members to Turkish airbase. (Reuters)
Japan marks 70 years since atomic destruction of Nagasaki. (NPR)
Walter Palmer’s got nothing on this big-game stalker. Before the Minnesota dentist killed Cecil the lion, Francis was on the front lines of unambiguously legal hunting of Africa’s iconic beasts. While slamming Palmer’s poaching practice, the 41-year-old — famously targeted by comedian Ricky Gervais for killing a giraffe — said well-regulated and fair-chase hunting plays a major role in rehabilitating a number of threatened and endangered species. The question is whether the public can stomach even ethical approaches to big-game jaunts in the age of Cecil.
Trouble is brewing in Qatar, which boasts the highest per capita water usage in the world, and demand continues to soar. Weathered desalinization plants like one OZY recently visited rely on old-school evaporation to make plentiful seawater drinkable. But the process is exorbitant, energy intensive and environmentally destructive. That’s why it’s a big deal that independent water projects are coming to town with a simple tech — pioneered by an old enemy — that could provide the emirate and the region with a more sustainable approach to slaking desert dwellers’ seemingly unquenchable thirst.
They’re heroes for hire. A must-have for wealthy adventurers, companies like Global Rescue solicit contracts to keep individual and corporate clients safe if disaster strikes. But for Andy Fraser, who worked for the company in Nepal when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit in April, the practice caused an ethical crisis: For-profit extrication efforts were tying up helicopters — eventually commandeered by the government — and other resources that could have saved Nepalis far from adequate medical facilities. Though Fraser volunteered to help local victims, the industry has yet to be rescued from this occupational dilemma.
It’s an uncomfortable business for her. Rae, who wrote and starred in her own wildly popular YouTube series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” was courted by several networks only to discover that they wanted to dilute her show’s message to appeal to a mainstream audience. Traditional TV wants to Rae to play to a Black audience, but her Southern California vibe defies pigeonholing. Now streaming has fostered unconventional programming, and she’s praying that her new HBO project, tentatively called Insecure, will advance how television depicts complex female characters with a little extra melanin.
“Cautionary tale” doesn’t do some sports bios justice. Ask Pete Rose. Or Denny McLain. The Detroit Tigers’ ace pitcher won 31 games in 1968 — a feat unmatched since — and seemed destined for a storybook career. There’s a story, anyway: a three-month suspension in 1970 for ties to the gambling underworld that meant the loss of income, his fastball and career. His pitches may have slowed down, but he didn’t, spending time at the baccarat tables and in prison, continuing a tale in which caution never got to first base.