After a slow winter, the U.S. economy has emerged from hibernation. Retail sales rose 1.2 percent for May after a flat April, and analysts are bullish on jobs and income. So it’s likely that when Federal Reserve members meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, they’ll be enthusiastic about raising interest rates this year. But other nations’ economies are still sluggish, and both the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are urging the Fed to delay an increase until 2016, allowing a bustling America to wake up the rest of the world.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It was straight out of a movie. Even Stephen King tweeted that the Dannemora prison break last weekend through an Upstate New York manhole was “a bit like” his fictional Shawshank Redemption, “except these are bad, bad boys.” And on Friday authorities charged a prison seamstress — reportedly smitten by one of the boys — with providing escape tools. Since June 6, America has been watching and wondering when and if authorities will catch up with convicted murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt. Until then, folks within an expanding circle will be keeping a close eye on their children.
Et tu, Pelosi? Barack Obama visited the Capitol on Friday to lobby fellow party members on a “fast track” trade promotion authority, and even his stalwart ally, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, responded with a thumbs down, voting to disable the bill. Without it, the president isn’t expected to conclude the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, favored by GOP leaders but opposed by Democrat-backing unions and environmentalists. It was supposed to bolster U.S. influence in the region and define Obama’s diplomatic legacy, but it became the latest indicator of his lame-duck status.
In 15 years, some 22,000 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean. It’s Europe’s biggest ongoing humanitarian disaster, but one Italian lawman wants to reconceptualize the tragedy. Veteran mafia-buster Calogero Ferrara says the traffickers are just another form of organized crime, and instead of ranting that migrants should be forced back with gunboats, as some have, he is talking to refugees and tapping organizers’ phones and has identified a kingpin in the $7 billion racket. The stakes couldn’t be higher as European leaders flail at the problem and bodies continue to wash ashore.
Court orders Sudan’s president to stay in S. Africa. (The Guardian)
U.S. ready to place heavy weapons in Eastern Europe. (NYT)
Dallas gunman was known threat to judges, his mother. (CNN)
Deadly flood frees lions, tigers onto streets of Georgian capital. (AP)
Chicago one win from hockey title after topping Tampa Bay. (SI)
In space, no one can hear you snore. After landing badly on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, ending up in a shady spot that impeded solar charging and going silent for seven months, the Philae space probe has awakened. To the delight of its European Space Agency handlers in Germany, the 220-lb. craft resumed sending data packets — and tweets — late Saturday for the first time since November. Data also indicates Philae may have awakened sooner, but was unable to “talk” to Earth until last night.
Seiji Katagiri, like German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, didn’t care who got hurt in the process. Both precipitated tragedy, but the Japanese pensioner is the only pilot in history to have survived a deliberate crash. Back in 1982, 24 people died after Katagiri rammed a Japan Airlines flight into the ground in Tokyo. Declared mentally ill, he spent several years in a psychiatric ward. Today he lives in relative comfort in the shadow of Mount Fuji while Japanese children call each other “Katagiri” for acting dishonorably.
The pitfall of successful cultural parody? Being embraced by the target culture. That may be the only failing of ClickHole, the Onion’s send-up of Web distractions. Taking aim at clickbait mavens like BuzzFeed (they thought about calling it “StuffFeed”), the site gets up to 15 million hits per month for such fare as “Quiz: Is Your Dad Proud of You?” and a faux feature on ’90s Beanie Babies filled with now-hatching spider eggs. The lesson? If a website thrives by mashing up Mr. Bucket and 9/11, humanity is in serious trouble.
In California’s troubled Oakland Unified School District, a superstar superintendent has taken on the Herculean task of fixing a system where a staggering 71 percent of kids are poor enough for subsidized lunches. But getting anything done requires dodging spitballs from teachers’ unions and parents alike. And there was even a death threat: That’s what you get for mentioning charter schools. If Antwan Wilson succeeds as he did in Denver, with uniforms and strict rules enforcement, he might just set a precedent for America’s other impoverished, conflict-ridden urban districts.
Jagged Little Pill, 20 years old this month, launched her as an emo-grunge icon. But there’s another Alanis — she had two albums’ worth of bouncy dance tracks and pop during her teen years in Canada, both of which were pulled when Pill was released for fear of confusing her image in the public eye. But that early work, and her cutesy image later parodied on How I Met Your Mother, gave her something to rebel against — while birthing a wave of in-your-face feminist rock.
The worst defender in the 2012 NBA draft when the Warriors picked him, Barnes is now covering LeBron James. The 6-foot-8 small forward from Ames, Iowa, credits a sports psychologist’s book, which prompted him to stop thinking when the game starts and just let instinct take over. Scoring five of his 14 points early against Cleveland on Thursday, the 23-year-old also gave a mental boost to his teammates during their 103-82 victory, leveling the NBA finals at 2-2 and pumping fans with rational optimism for Sunday’s Game 5.