He’s finding time for the personal and the political. Next month the president will host the Dutch royal family on its first U.S. state visit, as well as a second swingby from South Korean leader Park Geun-hye, one of America’s most steadfast allies. He’ll also host a reception honoring LGBT citizens — June is Pride Month — and time-warp almost a century to posthumously award two Army soldiers, black Pvt. Henry Johnson and Jewish Sgt. William Shemin, (pictured), the Medal of Honor for showing long-unrecognized “conspicuous gallantry” in World War I.
The Presidential Daily Brief
There’s a new sheriff on the pitch, and his name is Uncle Sam. On Wednesday U.S. prosecutors shocked the soccer world by indicting 14 top officials in a “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted corruption” case. Less of a surprise was that unindicted President Sepp Blatter, after dismissing the idea he could monitor global ethical behavior, was re-elected on Friday for a fifth term. As FIFA confronts its worst crisis in 111 years, fans will be watching to see if this cataclysm gives world soccer the kick it needs to up its game.
At 14, he imitated the King of Pop for a reality TV contest and praised the American Dream. By 18, Jejoen Bontinck was fulfilling a different aspiration: waging jihad in Syria, along with 4,000 of his fellow Europeans. He was raised Catholic, converted for a Muslim girlfriend and then joined Sharia4Belgium, which recruited anti-Assad fighters, many of whom joined ISIS. After returning from Syria, Bontinck became a star witness in a terrorism trial, and European authorities will be parsing his testimony for years to come, trying to prevent their youth from becoming radicalized.
For more than two decades, the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires remained an unsolved mystery — with Iran the prime suspect. This January, Alberto Nisman, the man trying to crack the case, and accuse the Argentine government of covering it up to appease a lucrative trading partner, added to the mystery by turning up dead on his bathroom floor. Now his ex is using her judicial skills to find out if the “apparent suicide” was in fact murder and who’s responsible. As October elections loom, Argentinians will demand answers.
Rand Paul says he’ll force expiration of Patriot Act. (USA Today)
John Kerry crashes bike in France, hospitalized in Geneva. (NYT)
Singapore police shoot man dead outside security summit. (WSJ) sub
Nepal schools re-open after earthquake repairs. (BBC)
Solar plane begins unfueled journey across Pacific. (McClatchy)
If there are wolves at the door, why not invite them in? The lupine residents of farms like Wolf Connection and Shadowland Foundation are breaking down barriers, giving humans a chance to interact with the biggest, baddest animal they’ve never seen in real life. They’re paired with addicts as therapy animals, used as teaching tools in business workshops and occasionally called upon to participate in a wedding ceremony. And while they still carry the spirit of the wilderness not found in any lapdog, they just may help to heal what ails you.
Tin is in at the Vatican. One insider says cardinals are trading their gold crosses for those sold on the street so they can be more like their boss, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, aka the Holy Father, who doesn’t care much for showiness. The first non-European pope since the Dark Ages, he may also be the office’s first rock star, wowing the media, his flock and non-Catholics alike. He’s proselytized Cuba’s leader and upturned Catholic doctrine on remarriage and homosexuality. Cardinals chose him to light a fire, but now they’re wondering how to contain the heat.
If Americans eager to see a woman in the Oval Office stake every hope on Hillary, those hopes might be dashed. But you don’t have to look far for another contender: Kirsten Gillibrand, who took over Clinton’s Senate seat when Hillary became secretary of state, is another blonde powerhouse. Though she’s been pummeled by sexism — and unflattering comparisons to the Tracy Flick character in Election — Gillibrand has both the drive and the donors to reach the top, and could leapfrog over other female favorites like Elizabeth Warren for the runner-up spot.
There’s a guerrilla movement afoot among California vintners. In Pursuit of Balance, a group of 33 Pinot Noir producers from Anderson Valley, is championing younger, less alcoholic varieties — compared with classic wines made from fully mature grapes — and pooling resources to reach the marketplace. Their attempt to redefine how California wines should look, feel and taste is going down well, and IPOB wines are increasingly being picked up by restaurants and shops. But one influential critic calls them a “jihadist” movement for underripe wines, and they’re fermenting one helluva debate.
It’s the classic superhero story arc. The comic book publisher was bankrupt, defeated, then reborn with its heroes supercharged by the nihilistic sensibilities of Scots author Mark Millar. The risky “Ultimate Marvel” venture raked in billions from magazine racks and the box office, where the record-breaking Avengers proved that the brand had regained its powers. But then it went too far, with heroes being gruesomely killed on paper, alienating fans and inspiring this month’s Secret Wars comicgeddon, killing off the Ultimate brand as the movies and competitors it inspired continue to triumph.