Just days after being re-elected as FIFA president for the fifth time, Sepp Blatter announced he is stepping down amidst allegations of corruption. The 79-year old Swiss citizen has been the focus of controversy as the leader of an organization in disarray that recently saw various federation executives implicated in a graft probe by the U.S. Justice department. Just hours before the hastily arranged press conference, Blatter had announced he’d be attending this summer’s Women’s World Cup. Blatter called for an emergency election in the coming weeks, and it’s likely his last presidential opponent, Prince Ali of Jordan, will take his place.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Survivors swam ashore to alert authorities to what may be Asia’s deadliest sea tragedy since last year’s Sewol ferry disaster. The captain and chief engineer were among the 13 who have been rescued, but five have died and hundreds are missing after the Eastern Star cruise ship capsized on China’s famed river. It was carrying 458 passengers, mostly retirees aged 50 to 80. Thousands of rescue workers have been deployed, and trapped passengers have been heard within the submerged hull, but many fear the death toll will rise significantly.
Your conversations are yours again. The government surveillance programmed uncovered by Edward Snowden that collected phone data records on U.S. citizens in bulk quantities has been repealed with the Senate passage of the USA Freedom Act, which requires stricter controls on government requests for such records. It was a bipartisan effort that passed 67-32 in a GOP-controlled Senate, despite valiant efforts by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to block it as a threat to national security. President Obama signed it into law shortly after.
Terror suspect Usaama Rahim was shot and killed in Boston this morning, according to government authorities. The 26-year-old man was under surveillance by the U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force along with two other individuals yet to be identified. There are conflicting reports about the nature of the incident, with investigators saying he pulled a knife on officers as they approached him while the suspect’s brother claims he was not aggressive and was simply waiting for a bus. Boston police and terrorism investigators are expected to detail their findings later today.
Athens appears to be making a last-ditch effort to avoid a Grexit. In a bid to secure desperately needed bailout loans, Prime Minister Alex Tsipras’ government has sent a “realistic” reforms proposal, including painful concessions, to its eurozone creditors. The move follows emergency talks last night in Berlin between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, IMF chief Christine Lagarde and other European officials to discuss Greece’s flailing finances. Merkel was trying to negotiate between Lagarde’s hard line and the more generous treatment advocated by others in the hopes of finding common ground, but speculation of an ultimatum may have tipped Greece’s hand.
We remove shoes and toss liquids in order to have a safe trip. But an internal Transportation Security Administration investigation reveals that airport screeners aren’t holding up their end of the bargain: 95 percent of mock weapons got past them in tests. Admittedly, the undercover “super terrorists” had expert knowledge of procedures and exploited known weaknesses. But Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s not taking any chances. He’s reassigned TSA chief Melvin Carraway, pulling Deputy Director Mark Hatfield up to the helm, and has instituted new security protocols … just to be safe.
British scientists seek $150 billion to save world from climate change. (FT) sub
Former German chancellor Helmut Kohl hospitalized. (DW)
Canadian court orders three tobacco companies to pay $12.4 billion. (BBC)
Lion kills female U.S. tourist in South African wildlife park. (CNN)
Egyptian court delays verdict on Morsi death sentence. (Al Jazeera)
South Korea reports first MERS deaths, 25 infected. (Reuters)
Where’s the love? The Pont des Arts, a pedestrian span across the Seine that’s been overburdened with locks affixed by couples as symbols of everlasting devotion, saw the beginning of their wholesale removal yesterday. The phenomenon, blamed on a 2006 novel in which enamored teens put a padlock on a bridge and throw the key in a river, has been catastrophic for the structural integrity of the City of Light’s bridges, which are now carrying up to four times their recommended weight. Other crossings will soon face similar breakups.
They were hiding in plane sight. An Associated Press investigation revealed a series of fake companies with names like FVX Research and KQM Aviation gave cover to a fleet of at least 50 small planes conducting surveillance operations in more than 30 U.S. cities across 11 states. The government revealed they were conducting specific investigations but operated without warrants. While the FBI didn’t want the story run, it wasn’t for national security reasons. Instead, they pointed out the cost of creating new fake companies in order to continue the operations.
Call her Caitlyn. The 65-year-old formerly known as Bruce Jenner has publicly reintroduced herself on the cover of Vanity Fair. The magazine’s exclusive was kept under wraps by using a single computer with no Internet connection. But the Olympic champ was very much online, breaking a Twitter record yesterday by gaining a million followers in about four hours. She’s also set to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPYs on July 15, just days before her new eight-part E! series premieres.
The first smart wearable device-maker to achieve mainstream success will also be the first to have a stock market launch. Fitbit filed an IPO last month and today announced it will sell shares between $14 and $16 each, valuing the company at $3.1 billion. The filing will allow outside investors to analyze Fitbit’s financial health, which has been stellar based on the company’s own reports: In 2014 alone, the San Francisco-based outfit made $45 million in revenue on 11 million devices sold. Expect investors to snatch up the stock – and put pressure on competitors like Jawbone to step up to the investment plate.
There’s a new kid on the block. The game where players build virtual worlds piece by piece has grown enormously popular doing exactly what Lego bricks do in real life. So it’s no surprise that the Danish plastic toy giant is getting in on the act with Lego Worlds, which lets users create unique settings with colorful branded blocks. It’s been down this road before with Lego Universe — reportedly derailed by inappropriate structures — but the new offering is now available on Steam Early Access, a beta channel for gaming.
No male? No problem. Florida’s smalltooth sawfish, the world’s most endangered marine fish, has found a new way to propagate: Parthenogenesis, sometimes called “virgin birth.” Though other species have spontaneously given up sexual reproduction in captivity, the sawfish is the first known to forego it in the wild. But single-parent offspring are invariably female, and with only one set of genes they risk passing along weaker traits and mutations, according to researchers, so this last-ditch attempt to save the species may just be delaying the inevitable.
It’ll be the “toughest quarter-final of my career,” the Spaniard said. After dropping an unexpected third set against young American Jack Sock, the nine-time French Open champion went on to win in four sets to face red-hot Novak Djokovic in the next round. If he can stop Djokovic’s 26-match winning streak — Nadal’s had only one tournament win since this time last year — and finish the job at Roland Garros, he’ll be the first in the Open era to win a single Grand Slam event 10 times.