Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Aug 28, 2021
The U.S. military believes its drone strike today killed a “planner” of Thursday’s Kabul airport attack that killed 170 people. A California parole board has approved convicted Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan for release. And meet the Virginia counties with their own armies.
It’s not over. The U.S. military says it launched a drone strike today that it believes killed a “planner” of Thursday’s Kabul airport attack. It also told Americans hoping to enter the Taliban-encircled facility to leave the area for fear of another strike like the horrific bomb-and-gunfire eruption that killed 170 people. The attack was claimed by Islamic State offshoot ISK, a rival of the Taliban, which easily routed the Afghan government two weeks ago. Hundreds of Afghans remained outside the airport, willing to risk ISK terror for a chance to escape reported Taliban collaborator roundups before the final flight’s Tuesday deadline.
On Katrina Anniversary, Louisiana to Brace for Hurricane
Tomorrow is the 16th anniversary of the devastation and death Hurricane Katrina brought to New Orleans. Now improvements to the sub-sea level city’s bulwarks against flooding may be tested as Hurricane Ida, having slashed through Cuba yesterday with 80-mph winds, churns through the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana. Forecasters warn that it will strengthen to an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane with 140-mph winds before it makes landfall late Sunday. Oil companies have cut production as a precaution, and a National Weather Service meteorologist said Ida will be “life-altering for those who aren’t prepared.” (Sources: Washington Post, Reuters, ABC)
3 - Not a Threat
RFK Assassin Wins Parole Board OK
After 53 years’ imprisonment for assassinating Robert F. Kennedy after he won California’s Democratic presidential primary, a state parole board has recommended Sirhan Sirhan for release after his 16th hearing. Two of Kennedy’s sons supported parole, and one, Robert Jr., doubts the Palestinian refugee killed his father. Meeting in San Diego, members of the board agreed that the 77-year-old, convicted of shooting Kennedy as he celebrated victory in Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel, was no longer a threat to society. The decision could still be overturned by Gov. Gavin Newsom, now embroiled in a recall election. (Sources: Washington Post, NPR)
4 - Fed Letter Day
Powell’s Caution on Easing Stimulus Stirs New Stock Highs
The U.S. Federal Reserve wants to reduce its economy-propping stimulus measures, but slowly, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told a Wyoming conference yesterday. The tapering, likely including interest rate hikes, could start before 2022, he said. But there’s “much ground to cover” before the pandemic-stricken economy is deemed healthy. The talk, including Powell’s assertion that recent inflation increases were temporary, pleased investors, boosting the S&P 500 and Nasdaq stock indexes to new records. Meanwhile, the dollar’s value dipped with the tapping of rainy-day accounts. One ominous note was Powell’s warning that easing too quickly could be “particularly harmful” before more workers are back on payrolls. (Sources: WSJ [sub], CNBC, MarketWatch)
5 - Also Important …
A Florida state judge ruled Friday that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ order prohibiting school districts from requiring students to wear face masks is “without legal authority.” President Biden and archconservative new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reaffirmed their two nations’ closeness at a White House meeting yesterday, despite disagreeing over reinstating Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement. And Manchester United has pulled off a soccer coup by bringing back Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo from Italy’s Juventus.
In the Week Ahead: Tomorrow YouTuber Jake Paul is to fight former UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit the White House on Tuesday. And oil-producing nations’ officials will gather for the OPEC+ meeting Wednesday to decide whether or not to cut petroleum output.
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It does say a “well regulated” militia in the Constitution. But when Bedford and Campbell Counties put their official stamp on two local armed groups, it codified a disturbing reality, Mother Jones reports. That became painfully obvious in May 2020, when snipers were set up in nearby Lynchburg to intimidate Black Lives Matter protesters who were upset about a local restaurant owner’s racist tweets. While more than a dozen BLM advocates were locked up, none of the white gunmen said to have incited violence saw any trouble. Legal experts say the counties’ official militia sanction is meaningless, but to those who’ve had to face them, it’s a life-and-death matter. (Source: Mother Jones)
2 - Red Eyes
China Calls Out ‘996’ Overwork Culture
In their latest assault on capitalism’s failings, like big tech’s anti-competitive bent and invasions of privacy, Beijing’s regulators yesterday tackled work-life balance. Or as they say in China, the “996” culture of working from 9 to 9 six days a week. And instead of simply saying it’s cruel and inhumane, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security proffered real-life examples of its toll from court records, like the media worker who collapsed in a break room and later died. Writing in a paper about overworking’s ills, the ministry called for an end to skirting overtime rules — an initiative sure to please those toiling away in the workers’ state. (Sources: Bloomberg, Insider)
3 - Pandemic Intelligence
COVID Origins? Still a Mystery
And now for the big reveal: After President Biden’s much publicized push for America’s spy agencies to show what they know about the origin of the pandemic, the agency that oversees the 18 agencies published their findings Friday. They’re “divided on the most likely origins,” and can’t offer any sort of high-confidence assessment. Essentially, it’s possible that the disease jumped from animals to humans by natural exposure. It’s slightly more likely the virus accidentally leaked from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, the agencies concluded. One “low confidence” possibility was that the virus was a biological weapon. They also agreed that to better explain what happened, they’ll need China’s authorities, who’ve promoted theories that the virus originated elsewhere, to cooperate. (Sources: ABC, CNBC)
4 - Time Machine
Songwriter Laments Competing With Past Tunes
There was a time when music came and went, often curated by radio DJs. But today’s streaming universe is a daunting obstacle for new artists, laments songwriter Ryan Tedder in a BBC interview. Boasting credits for artists ranging from Paul McCartney to Taylor Swift, he said that with 62,000 uploads to Spotify every day, “the frustrating thing about music is that now there’s too much of it.” That’s borne out by the U.K.'s 20 bestselling albums in 2021’s first half: four new ones and the rest oldies, including works from Queen, Fleetwood Mac and ABBA. Maybe the youngsters need more practice. (Source: BBC)
5 - Just Strikes
Can You Hate a Robot Umpire?
It’s a black box. Or a black pizza box with a green eye. It’s probably not perfect, but it’s pretty darn accurate. And that, argues Zach Helfand in The New Yorker, may ruin baseball. For now, the minor-league experiment uses humans with earpieces to announce the robot’s ball and strike calls. After berating the middleman, a heckler, told of the automation, admitted, “He’s called a good game, I gotta say!” Any baseball fan can see how wrong this is. The imprecision of calls and the drama therefrom are part of the game. At least until we learn how Major League Baseball calls it. (Source: The New Yorker)
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