Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people aboard, was apparently shot down by a surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine. The Malaysian prime minister poignantly referred to it as a “tragic day” in a “tragic year.” While attention is focused on determining who fired the missile, it’s really beside the point, according to OZY writer and former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin. “If Russia had not gone into Crimea and started this chain of events, this incident would never have happened. Please, no chicken-and-egg arguments about who started this. Russia is the instigator,” he told OZY.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The calm before the storm might be the best way to describe yesterday’s brief humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, which was promptly followed by an Israeli ground invasion. The tanks rolled in after 10 days of fighting, with Israel launching airstrikes in response to Hamas sending rockets into Israeli cities. Israel now plans to take out Hamas’ infrastructure by targeting its “terror tunnels” into Gaza. The move frustrates those like UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, who said: “There can be no military solution to this conflict.”
Fears of widening conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East have investors looking to drop riskier assets. The S&P 500 lost 23 points, with all 10 of its primary sectors taking hits, especially airlines; the NYSE Arca Airline Index fell 2.6 percent. In early trading today, Asian stocks fell for the first time all week, and Malaysian Airlines plummeted 11 percent. The true extent of the fall will be determined by worldwide reaction to the Ukrainian and Gaza crises in coming days.
Microsoft employees were steeled for job cuts, but they hadn’t imagined the figure would be a whopping 18,000 or 14 percent of the workforce, the deepest slash in the company’s 39-year history. Most of the cuts, 12,000, come from the Nokia handset division it acquired last year — a clear sign Microsoft is backing off its smartphone dreams after significant losses. The finance minister in Nokia’s homeland, Finland, was upset by the news, saying: “We have been betrayed.”
Top AIDS researchers killed in downing of Malaysia flight. (NYDN)
French train collision injures dozens. (France 24)
Top U.S. spy in Germany leaves the country. (DW)
Broadway dame Elaine Stritch dies aged 89. (NYT)
Millions of dollars worth of gold found in 1857 shipwreck. (USA Today)
Straight outta stupid, Sande Alessi Casting posted “offensive descriptions” in an online, ABC-style casting call for Straight Outta Compton. Universal Pictures and filmmakers behind the movie have broken ties with the agent over its calls for “A girls,” hot models of any race, and “D girls,” or poor African-Americans with “medium to dark skin.” The firm took the audition notice down, labeling it an “innocent mistake,” but it clearly needs to learn the ABCs of diversity and respect.
The U.S. Army is helping Chelsea (formerly Bradley) out of one prison, but not the kind with bars. The Wikileaker — sentenced to 35 years — has gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman trapped in a man’s body. The Pentagon, not feeling equipped to deal with transgender cases, tried to get Chelsea transferred to a civilian prison, but the request was denied. Now the Army must provide Chelsea with hormone therapy, setting her inner female free at last.
Americans feel right at home living with their folks…well into their thirties. Nearly 25 percent of U.S. adults, aged 25 to 34, now live with their parents or other relatives in “multi-generational households” — almost twice as many as 32 years ago. The economy, less-than-stellar job market, increased immigration and a tendency to marry later are to blame — but they’re unlikely to stop parents from wondering: “Are they ever going to leave?”
The Russian capital’s cemeteries are beginning to fracture, offering divided plots to different nationalities and religions. This division is an extension of the growing tensions between living city residents as Moscow experiences a boom in immigration and a rise in nationalist groups. The resulting inter-ethnic tensions lead many to ask: Who is part of “a real Moscow?” Rest in peace indeed, as long as we remain separated from cradle to grave.
You’ll have to forgive Northern Irish fans for not getting too excited by Rory McIlroy’s killer first day at the British Open. The 25-year-old golfer’s six-under 66 gave him a one-shot lead, but the youngster suffers from “freakish Fridays” — second-round collapses. Sitting just three shots back is Tiger Woods. Whoever hoists the Claret Jug must first prove they can stand the heat, both of competition and from Britain’s hottest days of summer.