European allies have joined forces with President Obama, and they’re going for the Kremlin’s jugular. With the toughest round of sanctions yet, the West is limiting Putin’s access to technology needed for tapping new oil reserves — which lies at the heart of Russia’s wealth. The sanctions target Russian energy, banking and defense industries and mark a new post-Cold War nadir in Western relations sparked by Russia’s interference in Ukraine and the downing of MH17.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Pro-choice activists are cheering after a court ruled to allow Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic to remain open. A panel of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals took aim at a state law that would have closed the Jackson-based facility, ruling that the 2012 law — which requires clinic physicians to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital — “extinguishes” a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. It’s a victory for women’s rights, but Mississippi is expected to appeal.
Who said Twitter was losing altitude? Accelerated user growth caused stocks to soar 34 percent in after-hours trading. Its number of monthly active users — spurred by a boost from World Cup tweets — hit 271 million, 24 percent higher than last year, beating market expectations and assuaging fears that the company was failing to attract new users. Twitter’s stock had fallen almost 40 percent from the beginning of the year, but Tuesday’s spike — combined with revenue more than doubling to $312 million — is sure to calm investors.
Scientific efforts to develop a vaccine against the mosquito-borne infection currently plaguing some 220 million people — and killing 800,000 each year — may soon triumph. Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline ran trials of a malaria vaccine with 1,500 children in several African countries and found that it effectively reduced infection rates for up to 18 months. Experts believe the high success rates could lead to the world’s first child malaria vaccine being approved for global use as early as next year.
Tank fire hits UN school in Gaza, killing at least 16. (Al Jazeera)
British official says Ebola is a threat to UK. (BBC)
Massive water main break floods UCLA. (LA Times)
24 die in Guinea concert stampede. (IBT)
Last Hiroshima bomb crew member dies. (Reuters)
The Turkish deputy prime minister knows how to make people chuckle. In a speech marking the end of Ramadan, Bulent Arınç told women they should not “laugh in front of everyone.” Yearning for simpler times, Arınç also took swipes at social media, cell phones and excessive driving. He wasn’t trying to be funny, but Turkish women grinned and giggled all over Facebook in response, making sure they got the last laugh.
The fists throw a real punch. Going in for a fist bump is safer than shaking hands when it comes to germs. Handshakes transfer about 10 times more bacteria than fist bumps, according to a Welsh study. The scientists think we should switch protocol from the traditional way to greet, and some infectious disease doctors have even called for a handshake ban in hospitals. The question now is, will handshakes come out swinging?
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, we’re told — or is there? Around the world a smattering of businesses are experimenting with a new pricing model that would let customers pay what they want. Some of these firms are even managing to stay afloat. That’s partly because of something behavioral economists call “self-signaling.” When given the chance to choose how much to pay for a sandwich, album or taxi, very few of us are callous enough to pay nothing.
London’s premier art gallery is getting into bed with a German collector. Count Christian Duerckheim recently purchased Emin’s “My Bed” — complete with stained sheets and empty bottles that reflect a “weekend after the breakdown of a relationship” — for $4.3 million. Rather than tucking it away in his private collection, Duerckheim — who sees it as “metaphor for life, where troubles begin and logics die” — has pledged to move the bed back to its original home for at least 10 years.
Will another basketball royal answer the call from home? Kevin Durant, who grew up near Washington, D.C., told reporters he applauded LeBron James’ decision to move home to Cleveland, adding that D.C. “is a part of me. It’s in my blood.” Several factors will influence whether the 6’9” Thunder forward leaves Oklahoma City for the Wizards when he hits free agency in 2016. Unwilling to make predictions, Durant simply said: “I’m going to do what’s best for me.”