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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.
May 27, 2022
Parents of victims expressed their anger at the police response to the Uvalde school shooting. Russia launched a fresh offensive in Ukraine’s Donbas region. Conditions in Pakistan’s Jacobabad paint a grim picture of life in a hotter, drier future. And 17 months later, the Biden administration outlined its China strategy. All this and more in today’s PDB.
Parents Angry at Response to Uvalde Shooting, NRA Pushes Ahead
Grief was compounded by anger as more details emerged about Tuesday’s shooting. The school had made plans for such a scenario, even going so far as to employ armed security. But the gunman “walked in unobstructed” via an unlocked door and continued his killing spree for over an hour. While police officials defended their troopers, one father lamented, “This could have been over in a couple of minutes.” Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association announced that its annual convention will go ahead in Texas this weekend. Former President Donald Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott and Sen. Ted Cruz are scheduled to speak. (Sources: NYT, The Hill)
Russia Launches Attacks on All Fronts in Eastern Ukraine
Yesterday Russian artillery hit Kharkiv — Ukraine’s second-largest city — for the first time in a week, killing at least nine people including a baby. Russian forces continued their bombardment of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk and there were reports of three explosions in Dnipro overnight. “They want to burn the Donbas,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a downbeat nightly address, “to make it uninhabitable.” More than three months since the invasion, Ukraine is clearly feeling the heat. But the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense says Russia is also getting desperate: They’ve recently deployed 50-year-old tanks that are “particularly vulnerable to anti-tank weapons.” (Sources: BBC, The Guardian)
On the Front Line
124 Fahrenheit: Pakistani City Offers Glimpse of Hellish Future
Jacobabad has always been one of the world’s hottest cities, but the heat usually kicks off in late May, not in March like it did this year. The combination of fewer trees and less water — and the fact that scientists say climate change has made heat waves in the area 30 times more common — has led activist Mohammad Shaaban to worry that “in the next few years, Jacobabad will not be able to house humans and animals.” Workers have to endure 12-14 hour days, and heatstroke is commonplace. Those who can afford it move away from the city during the summer. (Sources: The Guardian, NYT)
No ‘New Cold War’
Blinken Outlines US Strategy on China in Long-Awaited Speech
“We are not looking for conflict or a new Cold War. To the contrary, we’re determined to avoid both,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a 45-minute speech covering U.S.-China relations. The U.S. won’t prevent China from growing its economy or meddle with its political system, but it will “defend and reform the rules-based international order — the system of laws, agreements, principles and institutions that the world came together to build … to prevent conflict, to uphold the rights of all people,” Blinken said. His speech coincided with the Chinese foreign minister’s tour of Pacific island nations.(Source: Reuters)
Here are some things you should know about today:
Served. Kevin Spacey has been charged in the U.K. with four counts of sexual assault and one count of “causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.”(Source: Variety) Fangtastic. A Guinness World Record was broken Thursday when 1,369 “vampires” gathered at the Gothic ruins of England’s Whitby Abbey on the 125th anniversary of the publication of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula. (Source: The Guardian) Too tragic. Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, a teacher who was killed in the Uvalde shooting, died of cardiac arrest, leaving four children. “I truly believe Joe died of a broken heart,” said Irma’s cousin Debra Austin. (Source: BBC)
Lasers Reveal Ancient Urban Centers Beneath the Amazon
For decades, mysterious mounds in the southwest corner of the Amazon basin have confounded experts. Now, thanks to remote-sensing technology that mapped the terrain from the air, they have an answer. Starting 1,500 years ago, Amazonians lived in densely populated settlements encircled by miles of elevated roadways and punctuated by 70-foot earthen pyramids. Researchers previously thought that all Amazonians lived in small, nomadic tribes that left negligible traces. “This is the first clear evidence that there were urban societies in this part of the Amazon Basin,” said Jonas Gregorio de Souza, an archaeologist at Spain’s Pompeu Fabra University.(Source: Nature)
Way Too Young
‘Goodfellas’ Actor Ray Liotta Dies at 67
He was doing what he loved. The Field of Dreams and Killing Them Softly star died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic while filming a movie. Liotta got his Hollywood break playing a menacing ex-con in the 1986 comic crime film Something Wild. “Mr. Liotta, a newcomer, nearly walks off with his sections of the film,” gushed the New York Times review. He showcased his acting depth playing gangster Henry Hill in the 1990 Martin Scorsese picture Goodfellas, but he didn’t only play bad guys. “He was so uniquely gifted, so adventurous, so courageous as an actor,” said Scorsese yesterday. (Sources: NYT, Independent, People)
Free at Last
Spanish Divers Free 40-Foot Humpback Whale From Fishing Net
A team of divers off the island of Mallorca freed the creature from an illegal drift net. After the whale — only the third humpback ever seen in the area — was spotted by a ship, Palma de Mallorca’s Aquarium marine rescue team jumped into action. When initial attempts to access the whale from a boat failed, divers from two nearby diving centers joined in. “We kept cutting and cutting and she kind of gave a little wiggle to get herself out of it,” said marine biologist Gigi Torras. “It was like out of this world, it was incredible, just incredible,” she added.(Source: Reuters)
Life Imitates Art
Author of ‘How to Murder Your Husband’ Found Guilty Of…
...killing her 63-year-old chef husband, Daniel Brophy, at his workplace in Portland, Oregon. Nancy Crampton Brophy’s macabre 2011 essay opens thus: “As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure. After all, if the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail.” The 71-year-old goes on to discuss motives — financial, cheating, abuse — and methods. The judge excluded the essay from the trial and the murder weapon was never found, but CCTV footage and gun-ownership records convinced the jury.(Source: The Guardian)
Fans Put Fake Noses of Vandalized Ibrahimović Statue Up for Auction
Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. Angry soccer fans in Malmo, Sweden, are selling three replica noses based on a statue of lapsed hometown hero Zlatan Ibrahimović. The statue was vandalized — a nose, leg and toe were removed in separate incidents — after the star acquired a stake in Stockholm rival Hammarby in 2019 and he pledged to transform it into Scandinavia’s biggest club. Proceeds of the sale of the noses “will go to purposes that promote the work against modern and commercial football, where the love of clubs and sports is at the center.”(Source: Reuters)
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