Russia is planning to put 40 intercontinental missiles into service this year, bringing further tension to Eastern Europe. Its nuclear arsenal reportedly stands at nearly 4,500 warheads and includes 1,800 strategic warheads already deployed on missiles and at bomber bases. The president’s announcement came at the opening of an arms show outside Moscow, just one day after NATO announced it would place tanks near Ukraine’s border. The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced that move, criticizing the United States for “inciting tensions.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
The New York real estate developer has announced his intent to run for president, using incendiary language targeting President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and even fellow GOP-er Jeb Bush. In a rambling speech, the controversial figure said his platform would include replacing the Affordable Care Act, battling ISIS by finding his own “Patton” and fully supporting the second amendment. The 69-year-old has run before and has prompted a bit of “eye-rolling,” but judging by the buzz online, he’s likely to get plenty of attention.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that partially hydrogenated oils will be phased out of all manufactured foods within three years. The oils are responsible for unsafe, unsaturated fatty acids and have led to high rates of cholesterol and coronary heart disease. Doctors say banning trans fats may lead to the prevention of 20,000 heart attacks a year and 7,000 deaths. Products today are allowed to be labeled with 0 grams of fat if they have less than 0.5 per serving but the American Public Association has said there’s no safe level of trans fat consumption.
They’re keeping it in the family. Murdoch’s younger son James will take over as chief exec of the entertainment branch of his dad’s empire on July 1, but his father isn’t going far. Rupert Murdoch, 84, and his elder son Lachlan will be serving as executive co-chairmen. This transition has been expected for a long time, but while the Murdoch patriarch is relinquishing some power, he’s still expected to hold the reins on major company decisions, even if he’s no longer got the top job.
The deputy is reportedly dead. Al-Qaida has announced that Naser al-Wahishi, the head of its affiliate in Yemen who was appointed as second-in-command overall in 2013, has been killed by a U.S. drone strike. Pentagon officials have yet to confirm the kill, which would signal the greatest victory since Osama bin Laden’s 2011 death. But his successor won’t be any picnic either — one analyst predicts far more aggression under newly appointed former military chief Qassim al-Raymi.
Six young students were killed and another eight were injured — some seriously — when a balcony gave way overnight during a birthday party in Berkeley, California. Police said the victims fell from a four-story apartment building near the city’s downtown area, but the cause of the accident was not immediately clear. Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed that the dead were Irish citizens and said he was ready to “provide all possible consular assistance” to the grieving families.
Ex-CEO Hank Greenberg triumphed, but he has little to show for it. The 90-year-old was vindicated in his four-year legal battle when Judge Thomas Wheeler ruled that the U.S. showed “unduly harsh treatment” in 2008 by seizing 80 percent of the firm in exchange for a $182 billion bailout. But since the company would’ve otherwise gone bankrupt, no damages were awarded. The ruling — which saw AIG shares rise — could have a devastating effect on the government’s inclination to intervene in future financial crises.
This will test European unity. Leaders are meeting in Luxembourg today to discuss how to deal with the influx of migrants braving treacherous Mediterranean crossings to land in Italy and Greece by the thousands. Italy — backed by the European Commission — is begging other countries to share the burden, while threatening to issue residence permits that would allow the refugees to enter other EU countries if no deal is forthcoming. British Prime Minister David Cameron, meanwhile, is expected to push hard against taking anyone in.
OZY’s former PDB guest curator wants his own presidential briefing. The former Florida governor ended months of speculation by formally launching his bid yesterday for the 2016 GOP nomination. Bush, whose father and brother served as the 41st and 43rd U.S. presidents respectively, told a crowd of supporters at Miami Dade College that he’s taking nothing for granted. Deemed the front-runner, albeit not by much, Bush pointed to his leadership experience and vowed to get the country “back on the side of free enterprise and free people.”
China to stop building of islands, continues projects on them. (NYT)
Egyptian court upholds Morsi death sentence. (AFP)
Greece’s finance minister says no more proposals from Athens. (DW)
Dolezal quits NAACP post as news of discrimination suit emerges. (NYT)
European Court of Justice says ECB can buy bonds. (DW)
Kurds conquer northern Syrian town, run ISIS out. (BBC)
FIFA’s Chuck Blazer went undercover for immunity deal. (The Guardian)
”Putting something this personal on the pages of a newspaper does not come easy,” acknowledged Pete Buttigieg, who’s 33 and told his constituents about his sexuality in an essay in the South Bend Tribune. But the Indiana Democrat decided that coming out could make life easier for young people coming to terms with their own sexuality — and while same-sex marriages are recognized in Indiana, he pushed for national change, looking ahead to the awaited Supreme Court decision on gay marriage that’s expected in the coming days.
There are still a few legal issues to weed out. The Colorado Supreme Court has just ruled that employers can fire staff for smoking marijuana, even in states where it’s legal. Employers with zero-tolerance policies are within their rights to terminate workers — even if they smoke in private, not on the job — because federal laws don’t protect recreational or medical pot users. So until laws change, expect more firings in Colorado and in 22 other states that have “legalized” medical marijuana.
If you build it, they will zoom. Elon Musk’s aerospace company is hoping to attract independent engineering teams and university students to join the race in creating high-speed transit pods by launching a competition to get more prototypes flying. The challenge is open to anyone — including private firms, which are already charging full speed ahead — and entries are due by September 15. They’ll then be vetted and tested alongside a SpaceX-designed reference pod on a one-mile test track to be built by June 2016.
Can two Hershey bars a day keep the doctor away? Unlike a recent bogus study about chocolate aiding weight loss, this one’s legit: New research shows that dedicated chocoholics — those eating about 3.5 ounces a day — are 11 percent less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, and enjoy a 25 percent lower risk of associated death compared to non-chocolate consumers. Scientists warn that they’ve found a link, rather than a cause and effect, and encourage folks to unwrap the foil in moderation as they conduct further research.
You’d think he’d relate to “Winter is Coming.” But St. Petersburg lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, the infamous designer of Russia’s “gay propaganda” laws, is concerned that Game of Thrones rejects “traditional values.” He’s proposing that Western television programs get government approval before entering the country. The fantasy drama is a huge hit in Russia, but Milonov — who hasn’t seen the show but believes 10 percent of its characters are sexual deviants — hopes he can convince the Ministry of Culture to his way of thinking.
It’s officially a dynasty. Chicago’s dominant defenseman — and unanimous playoff MVP — Duncan Keith scored the first goal last night, followed by Patrick Kane’s third-period shot, to clinch a 2-0 win for the Blackhawks. Tampa Bay had a golden opportunity early, when star Steven Stamkos was denied on a fast break by Corey Crawford, who recorded 25 saves in his fifth career playoff shutout. Though the Hawks have now earned three championships in six seasons, this was their first Cup win in 77 years on home ice.