He’s all in. Congressman Paul Ryan officially announced his speaker bid on Thursday, after more than 70 percent of the House Freedom Caucus voted to support the Wisconsin politician. While it stopped short of a formal endorsement, the numbers ensure that Ryan has enough votes to become Speaker, thereby avoiding a Republican leadership meltdown. Ryan said he was “grateful for the support,” which he’ll need if he’s to tackle looming congressional debates on government finance. An internal party vote is scheduled for Wednesday before the full House votes next Thursday.
The Presidential Daily Brief
”We need leadership at home to match our leadership abroad,” the former secretary of state told the House Select Committee, in a response to the perceived partisanship of the confrontation. Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner for president, answered questions about her role in the diplomatic debacle that led to the deaths of four Americans in Libya in 2012. While conservatives on the committee insist they aren’t gunning for Clinton — simply asking questions — most analysts expect a laser focus on Clinton’s Benghazi-related emails.
Roll up your red carpet. That’s the message from Obama to Putin following Bashar Assad’s Kremlin visit, where the Russian and Syrian leaders discussed military efforts to stem rebel advances. American officials say that embracing Assad, “who has used chemical weapons against his own people,” will only embolden him, slowing any political transition while lengthening the devastating civil war. On a personal level, Putin and Assad reportedly aren’t too friendly, but with Russian MPs in Damascus for talks with Syrian leadership today, the partnership is showing few signs of cracking anytime soon.
No “Rose Garden strategy” for him. The American vice president took to the White House greenery yesterday to announce that it’s too late for him to mount a successful 2016 bid. Biden, who sought the Democratic nomination twice before, said he still believes in “unlimited possibilities for this country” and vowed to continue voicing his opinions. But after losing his son to brain cancer in May and missing the first Democratic debate, he’s opting not to run for the Oval — thereby eliminating one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest potential obstacles.
Were those deals a little too slick? Authorities in multiple jurisdictions are investigating allegations that Petróleos de Venezuela demanded millions in kickbacks from American firms in exchange for contracts. They’re also looking into whether the state oil giant was involved in black market currency schemes and drug money laundering. Charges have yet to be made public, and Venezuela’s officials routinely dismiss corruption allegations. But any legal trouble could grease the Venezuelan economy’s slippery slope — set to contract 10 percent this year — and push other nations to open their own inquiries.
EU, US seek UN action over Iran missile test. (DW)
WikiLeaks publishes CIA director’s personal information. (CNN)
Masked man shot in Swedish school after launching sword attack. (BBC)
American political bickering fuels default concerns. (FT) sub
U.S. commandos reportedly raid ISIS prison. (NYT)
Who’s revisionist now? The Israeli leader sparked controversy this week by saying that Hitler originally just wanted to expel the Jews, but was encouraged to “burn them” by 1930s Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel — whom Benjamin Netanyahu met yesterday in Berlin — said, “responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.” While al-Husseini was an anti-Semite and known Nazi collaborator, historians have condemned Bibi’s comments and are accusing him of handing ammunition to Holocaust deniers.
They’re sending smoke signals. The number of Americans using marijuana in the past decade rose to 9.5 percent, up from 4.1 percent. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism surveyed 80,000 individuals in 2001-2002 and again in 2012-2013, finding that while pot acceptance has risen steadily, so have “marijuana use disorders.” That means addiction, with roughly 30 percent of users developing an unhealthy habit. The group says it hopes the numbers will shed light on the possible dangers of a drug many see as risk-free.
Today’s episode is brought to you by the letters A, S and D. As part of a new Sesame Workshop initiative, Julia, a new muppet character with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has joined the cast. One in 68 children is diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental condition, and they’re more likely to be bullied. By showing viewers that Elmo’s new friend “does things a little differently,” the puppet masters hope to create “an affirming narrative” about ASD, teaching kids to be empathetic to those who may process the world in a different way.
Some are calling it swell. While surfboards are traditionally pricey — it’s one barrier of entry to the sport, alongside difficulty — Costco’s $99 Wavestorm is riding over that bump and getting more casual surfers to paddle out. The cheap board probably won’t satisfy serious surfers, and it’s ruffling feathers in the artisan surfboard community. But the soft-top Wavestorm is extra buoyant — key for beginners — and could be a gateway drug into surfing for those who would otherwise not dare dip a toe in.
So much for going Back to the Future. New York pummeled Chicago in convincing fashion last night, dismissing their rivals 8-3 and closing the NLCS with a clean sweep. Lucas Duda drove in five runs, and series MVP Daniel Murphy set an MLB record by homering in his sixth consecutive playoff game. But the Amazin’s have to wait a few more days to learn who they’ll face in the World Series: Toronto avoided elimination, beating Kansas City 7-1 and stretching the ALCS to a Game 6 this Friday.