It’s touch and go. After a disastrous CBO score showed the new Senate health care bill would mean tens of millions more Americans uninsured, along with higher premiums and worse coverage for many, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says they’ll delay a vote on the bill until after the July 4 recess. President Donald Trump has thrown his weight behind the bill, inviting the Senate’s 52 Republicans to a meeting where he urged them to commit to what could be the first major piece of legislation passed under his administration.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Its banner read “Freedom.” A man identifying himself as police pilot Oscar Perez reportedly commandeered a helicopter and circled Venezuela’s highest court trailing a protest banner yesterday. In online video statements Perez said he’s part of a “coalition” of civilians, military and police and asked Venezuelans to rise up against President Nicolas Maduro — who called the incident a “terrorist attack” and claimed the helicopter dropped grenades. As Venezuela teeters on the edge of a coup, security forces have been deployed in the search for Perez and his helicopter.
They call it Petya. The cyberattack that first struck Ukraine on Tuesday — affecting government agencies, power distributors and banks — has swiftly spread, hitting American pharmaceutical giant Merck, Russia’s top oil company, an Australian Cadbury’s factory and Danish shipping firm Maersk. Not much is known about the source of the attack, even as the number of targets soars into the tens of thousands. But it may be incredibly difficult to track the culprit: The ransomware was available for sale on the dark web and is reportedly simple to deploy with one click. Even scarier: Europol says there’s no “kill switch” yet that would stop the bug.
On tap: A water filter. The Obama administration’s Waters of the United States rule expanded federal authority to keep pollutants out of the drinking water of a third of the U.S. population. Now the EPA says it plans to scrap the rule — which has been reviled by farmers and chemical companies that say it impedes economic growth. Meanwhile, EPA chief Scott Pruitt reportedly met with the CEO of Dow Chemical just weeks before dropping an anticipated ban on using the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is manufactured by Dow, on food.
Know This: The Philippines House of Representatives has approved a bill requiring people to not only sing the national anthem when it’s played, but sing “with fervor.” The deputy White House press secretary said she urged all Americans to watch an anti-CNN video made by right-wing activist James O’Keefe, “whether it’s accurate or not.” And Michelle Payne, the only female jockey ever to win the Melbourne Cup, will face an inquiry after testing positive for a banned substance.
Don’t Try This: A suspect in Minnesota reportedly gave a police officer a “Get Out of Jail Free” card from a Monopoly game while being arrested. Police said he was carrying it “just in case,” but that it didn’t work.
Answer This: Tell us how you really feel. OZY’s next TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is launching on PBS this fall! To kick things off, we’re shelving the PC and launching debates. Each Wednesday, we’ll post a provocative question, focusing on topics that might make it onto the show. This week: Should you need a license to have a child? Go deep. Email email@example.com with your thoughts or a personal story, and we might feature your answer next week.
Hey look, fake news! Copies of Time magazine featuring President Trump and dated March 1, 2009, were reportedly hanging in at least five of the president’s golf clubs around the world — but the cover is a fake. No issue was published on that date, the headlines aren’t in the magazine’s style and the barcode is for karaoke software — but was featured in an online tutorial for making fake covers. Time has asked Trump to remove the doctored images, but the administration hasn’t yet commented.
“Now let’s bring the world closer together.” So wrote Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, announcing that the company has doubled its monthly active users in just five years. Next he says it’ll be shifting focus from growth — currently at 17 percent — to the challenge of getting users to “build community.” But skeptics point out that Facebook may struggle to continue growing, because many remaining potential users live in areas with poor internet connections — or in China, where the site is blocked — and may bring in less ad revenue.
A change is afoot. Through the pioneering efforts of local nongovernmental organizations, Vietnam is slowly changing its attitudes about poaching and conservation. Lobbyists have convinced the Vietnamese government to remove certain animal products from its list of sanctioned medicines, resulting in a drop in supply: Consumption of bear bile is down 61 percent in two years. Just as importantly, education about wildlife has stepped up, for both students and poaching enforcers. Now, NGOs are turning their attention to solving the remaining urban-rural and young-old divide in understanding conservation efforts.
Are they losing their religion? For the first time ever, more Australians chose not to identify with a religion than with any single denomination. The country’s latest national census revealed that the “no religion” camp nearly doubled since 2001, hitting 30 percent and easily overtaking Catholics’ 23 percent. While Christians are still the largest group, at 52 percent of the population, they’ve declined by 37 percent since the 1960s. Still, with state funding for religious education and mandatory prayers before parliamentary sessions, Australia has a ways to go before it’s truly secular.
They’re wrestling with controversy. In a Monday Night Raw segment, the Ball family found themselves in the spotlight once again after 15-year-old LaMelo Ball, youngest brother of the recent Lakers No. 2 pick, used the N-word twice on live TV. LaMelo, a high school basketball player with a UCLA scholarship offer, appeared alongside his brother and father to promote the family’s clothing brand. WWE released a statement after LaMelo’s language sparked a social media stir, saying the “segment was not scripted nor reflects WWE’s values.”