The dominos are starting to fall. American FIFA official Chuck Blazer has admitted to taking bribes related to the hosting locations of the 2010 and 1998 World Cups, and says others on the decision-making committee took bribes as well. Blazer cooperated in the face of a potential 20-year prison sentence, following the news that FIFA president Sepp Blatter, 79, who stepped down yesterday, will reportedly be investigated by the U.S. Officials are working with other cooperating witnesses and expect more collaboration as FIFA’s infrastructure of corruption is revealed piece by piece.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He couldn’t hack it in Rhode Island, but he’s got his eye on bigger things. Chafee, who served as the smallest state’s governor from 2011 until January, has vocalized his White House aspirations since April but formally entered the race today at a Virginia event. Chafee, who chose not to run for re-election once his gubernatorial term was up, was elected to the Senate as a Republican in 1999 and served for 8 years before leaving both the Senate and the party. He’s now a Democrat, and plans to run on his staunch anti-war record.
Your conversations are yours again. The American government’s bulk data surveillance program, revealed to the world by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, has been repealed with the USA Freedom Act. The new legislation passed in the Senate 67-32, despite wrangling within the GOP which saw Majority Leader Mitch McConnell siding with President Obama to fight rollbacks that could hurt counter-terrorism efforts, and presidential candidate Rand Paul fighting for change. Telecommunications firms will still retain users’ records, but government investigators now need court orders to see them.
Legal experts are saying former Governor Jeb Bush has crossed the legal limits of campaign financing law by raising millions of dollars without officially announcing his Presidential candidacy. According to federal law cited by New York Times, any individual who raises or spends $5,000 with the intent to run is “subject to spending and disclosure rules.” Avoiding an official announcement allows candidates to steer clear of donor limits. Public advocacy groups are petitioning the Federal Election Commission to look into it, but some analysts think Bush has left enough wiggle room in his statements of purpose to be safe.
Two years after being turned off for upgrades, the particle physics experimental machine known as the Large Hadron Collider is back online and ready for new research. The miles-long facility located under the French and Swiss border is expected to produce significant new data, such as evidence of subatomic “dark matter” particles that make up the 27 percent of the universe. The facility, run by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), produces collisions at a much higher voltage than ever before, pushing science to the boundaries of physics.
But will Athens agree? Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected today in Brussels, where he’ll be greeted with an offer by eurozone creditors to remedy his country’s financial ills with bailout funds in exchange for reforms. Athens tried to pre-empt an ultimatum by submitting a proposal of its own Monday night, so it’s unclear how Tsipras will respond. Some fear EU leaders are demanding primary budget surpluses that Greece will deem unreasonable. The clock, meanwhile, is ticking down to Friday’s deadline to pay the IMF $334 million.
Rescuers have been racing against the clock, but chances for finding more survivors are dimming. Most on board were in bed on Monday when the Eastern Star cruise ship capsized. The captain and chief engineer, both safe, have been taken into custody. They claim the vessel was hit by a cyclone, and meteorologists have corroborated that a strong, sudden storm hit the area. Sixty-five have been confirmed dead and 14 have been rescued, but poor weather is hampering efforts to find the rest of the boat’s 456 vacationers and crew.
U.S. authorities shoot dead terror suspect Usaama Rahim. (USA Today)
Rebels say Assad’s troops are helping ISIS by ignoring them. (NYT)
Large Hadron Collider resumes particle collisions. (BBC)
Bernanke blames U.S. for blocking IMF reforms, prompting AIIB. (FT) sub
U.S. pushes Houthis for Yemen peace talks. (DW)
Thirty days after losing her husband in an exercise accident, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg penned a deeply personal essay revealing her current emotional state and future outlook. Published on the social network, the post revealed the 45-year old did not know exactly when Dave Goldberg, the CEO of Silicon Valley company SurveyMonkey, had passed away after his fall off a resort treadmill. The women’s rights pioneer also said she appreciates everyone who’s offered to help deal with her grief – and called on them to continue to live their own lives with gratitude.
And they have Santa Claus to thank. Medical marijuana has been legal in Alaska since February, but individual cities have the right to decide whether to allow dispensaries to set up shop. The town of North Pole’s debate saw a resident named Santa Claus argue that if the 2,000-strong Fairbanks suburb couldn’t sell it, he’d have to travel into the big city for his prescribed weed. The city council voted in his favor, but Claus won’t be having a green Christmas: Regulatory wrangling means the state’s pot shops won’t open until 2016.
Time to sit in the shade. The CDC reports that deadly skin cancer rates have doubled in the past three decades, skyrocketing to 22 cases per 100,000 people in 2011, when 65,000 Americans were diagnosed. Some of the hike is due to greater awareness and detection, but experts say 20 percent of melanomas could be prevented by wearing hats, protective clothing and broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. If sun-worshippers don’t wise up, the rate is expected to double again by 2030.
Harvard alum John Paulson has made a $400 million donation to the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the largest financial gift in the school’s history. After graduating summa cum laude in 1980, Paulson launched his own investment firm, which now manages more than $18 billion in funds and has more than 100 employees. The gift was made in conjunction with The Harvard Campaign fundraising initiative and is expected to help significantly boost the private institution’s rapidly expanding engineering department, which itself is now being renamed in Paulson’s honor.
They’re pinning their hopes on commerce. The popular social networks have both announced rollouts of new monetization strategies. Pinterest plans to offer “Buyable Pins” later this month that could, for example, deliver all the ingredients for your favorite pinned recipe to your door. Instagram, meanwhile, is testing a new advertising format that will include “Shop Now” buttons, enabling its more than 300 million users to purchase sponsored products that appear in the glossy ads in their feeds. And both companies hope the new features will paint a pretty picture for profits.
They’ve just beefed up neighborhood watch. The Tokyo ward of Shinjuku has granted the 164-foot monster residency in exchange for promoting Japanese entertainment, drawing tourists and keeping an eye on the Kabuki-cho neighborhood. His birth year on the certificate, 1954, is that of his silver screen debut in Ishiro Honda’s film. Clearly turning a blind eye to the creature’s capacity for urban destruction, the town has commemorated their scaly new resident’s ambassadorial role with a giant, smoke-breathing Godzilla head atop a building to welcome — and frighten — visitors.
This civil war was won by the underdog. In an all-Swiss quarterfinal at the French Open, 30-year-old Stan Wawrinka took down his legendary compatriot to reach his first semifinal. The 17-time Grand Slam champ Roger Federer, 33, has already turned his focus to Wimbledon, saying, “That’s where I want to play my best.” Wawrinka, meanwhile, will face crowd favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — France’s best chance at a homegrown champ in 32 years — in the semis at Roland Garros on Friday.