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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 08, 2022
Republicans are up in arms after FBI agents searched Donald Trump’s Florida residence. Kenya is going to the polls, but both candidates seem out of touch with the electorate. At least eight people have died in South Korea’s worst flooding in decades. And the three white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery have received stiff sentences for federal hate crimes. All this and more in today’s PDB.
Battle Lines Harden After FBI Raids Trump Home
“My beautiful home Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida is currently under siege, raided and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” wrote former President Donald Trump, adding that officials “even broke into my safe.” The search, which appeared to be focused on classified documents Trump took from the White House, marks a significant escalation in the investigations into the final days of his presidency. Key GOP figures joined Trump in condemning the “weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats” — despite White House officials being surprised by the raid and the FBI director being a Trump appointee. (Sources: AP, NYT, New York Post)
Veteran Political Elites Square Off — But Do Voters Care?
Kenya is electing its next president, with an opinion poll putting veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga six points ahead of Deputy President William Ruto. Bizarrely, Odinga has the backing of outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose relationship with Ruto has soured. Ruto is painting himself as a working-class candidate who can put an end to years of domination by the Kenyatta and Odinga clans — but his status as a self-made billionaire beset by corruption allegations isn’t helping. Besides, said analyst Murithi Mutiga, Kenya’s overwhelmingly poor electorate seem to have “wised up to the fact that the political elite are divided by very little.” (Sources: The Guardian, Al Jazeera)
Already Serving Life, His Killers Get Federal Hate Crime Sentences
Gregory McMichael and his son Travis were sentenced to life in prison, while their neighbor William Bryan got 35 years. The trio, who gunned down 25-year-old Arbery as he was out jogging in 2020, will serve the federal sentences concurrently with their state sentences. Travis McMichael had asked to serve his time in federal prison, with his lawyer arguing that doing life in the violent state prison system was tantamount to a “backdoor death penalty” — but Judge Lisa Wood declined his request. “These three devils have broken my heart into pieces,” Arbery’s father, Marcus, said during sentencing proceedings. “You hate Black people.” (Source: BBC)
In Too Deep
At Least 8 Die in Seoul Floods
Authorities said six people are still missing and 14 have been injured as torrential rains continue to lash the South Korean capital. Three of the dead — two sisters in their 40s and one of their teenage daughters — drowned in a semi-basement flat that’s almost identical to the one featured in the Oscar-winning film Parasite: a stark reminder that even in one of the world’s most developed nations, climate change will hit the poor hardest. Parts of Seoul have received 16 inches of rain since midnight on Monday, and the deluge is expected to continue until at least Wednesday. (Sources: BBC, CNN)
Here are some things you should know about today:
Making history. Bestselling historian and TV host David McCullough has died at his home near Boston aged 89. “There is only one solace,” said Robert Caro. “His books will endure, helping America understand its past.” (Source: NYT) Tragic end. Brazil’s eight-time jiujitsu world champion, Leandro Lo, who was left brain-dead after being shot at a São Paulo club Sunday night, has since died. (Source: Al Jazeera) Flusher-in-chief. Hours before the raid on his Mar-a-Lago home, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman released photos that, she says, prove Trump periodically flushed official documents down White House toilets. (Source: Axios)
Olivia Newton-John, ‘Grease’ Star & Cancer Campaigner, Dies at 73
Born in Britain and raised in Australia, Newton-John first made a name in the U.S. as a straight-laced country music star. That all changed with the 1978 hit film Grease where her nerdy, girl-next-door character undergoes a leather-and-spandex-fueled metamorphosis. Soon life imitated art with her raunchy 1981 hit ‘Physical’ spending 10 weeks atop the charts. Her entertainment career would never again attain these heights — and a 1992 breast cancer diagnosis led to her spending her last three decades campaigning for humanitarian, animal welfare and cancer causes. The Olivia Newton-John Foundation will continue her research into plant medicine and cancer. (Sources: BBC, The Guardian)
Why Are So Many NYC Cars Being Colonized by Rats?
It might not stand up to statistical scrutiny, but 20 of 28 mechanics interviewed by the New York Times said there’s been an increase in rodent-related car issues — and 10 said the problem had doubled since the pandemic. Several factors are likely at play: not only did car ownership soar as germ-averse New Yorkers avoided public transport, but rat sightings shot up as their usual food sources were cut off. And new soy-based insulation for car wiring — “catnip for rats” — hasn’t helped either. “It brings me a lot of business, but it’s disgusting,” said Ozzy Dayan, a mechanic in Hell’s Kitchen. (Source: NYT)
Salt in the Wound
California’s Rivers Are Becoming Too Salty to Use
The combination of crippling drought — the western U.S. is enduring its driest period in 1,200 years — and rising sea levels is causing salt water to push farther and farther up the Delta, California’s main river system. The Sacramento River flows right past his vineyards, but Charlie Hamilton hasn’t used it to irrigate them since May. And the nearby city of Antioch has only drawn water from the San Joaquin River on 32 days this year — down from 174 in 2019. “We just try to hang on and hope the water quality gets better,” said cucumber farmer Bobby Costa. (Source: AP)
The Kenyan Presidential Candidate Who’s Betting on Hyena Testicles
While he has no chance of winning — he’s polling at 2% — George Wajackoyah could influence the close-run contest. The gravedigger-turned-law professor promises to wipe out Kenya’s foreign debt by establishing a medicinal marijuana industry and exporting animal parts, like hyena testicles, to China. And all on a shoestring budget: “These politicians, they have helicopters, they have money, they have painted cars. I don’t even have a single poster.” Which is not to say he can’t dream of smoking marijuana in the president’s office. “We shall go to State House and smoke it around to remove the colonial impurities,” vowed the 62-year-old. (Source: Sky News)
The WNBA Is Losing Two Greats — Only One Will Be Missed
You’ve probably heard that Sue Bird is retiring at the end of this season. But what about Sylvia Fowles? Fowles has won four Olympic gold medals, two WNBA titles and one league MVP Award. Her coach Cheryl Reeve describes her as “the best-all-time classic center in the history of our league.” But only avid followers of the women’s game would know this. Why? Her close friend Bird says that her own fame has a lot to do with being white, “small and, therefore, not intimidating, compared to Syl, who is Black, dark-skinned and of a certain stature.” (Source: NYT)
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