That’s one kind of double entendre. WikiLeaks has published documents that indicate the U.S. has been eavesdropping on French presidents — not just François Hollande, but previous leaders Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac. The White House insisted that they’re not currently tapping Hollande’s phone, but didn’t address whether they’ve done it in the past, and the French Foreign Ministry has summoned the American ambassador. This revelation could put the chill on a French bill legalizing broad surveillance of terror suspects, which was expected to pass in parliament today.
The Presidential Daily Brief
In the end it wasn’t even close. Though realpolitik in Congress threatened to kill the bill, which would increase the president’s authority to make trade deals, the Senate has approved the measure 60-38. Some have deemed its powers essential for negotiating the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, opposed by many Democrats as a job-killer. The next stop is the Oval Office, in what’s being called a rare Republican-assisted win for Obama. Once the president signs, he’ll be able to fast-track trade deals through both houses.
An emotional Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told victims and survivors he was sorry for the lives taken and damaged through the terrorist attack carried out in April 2013 that killed three people and injured 260 others. It was the first time he had publicly addressed the bombing. He also acknowledged carrying out the attack with his brother Tamerlan, asking Allah for mercy to himself, his brother and his family. The 21-year-old is the first person to receive a death sentence for terrorism related charges since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Better 150 years late than never. In this sesquicentennial year of the Confederacy’s defeat, its battle banner is losing its sheen of acceptability, even for Southerners. In the wake of a racist massacre in Charleston’s oldest black church, Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Sears joined Walmart in vowing to stop selling products featuring the Dixie flag. And South Carolina’s legislature has overwhelmingly agreed to debate its removal from Statehouse grounds later this summer. Meanwhile, politicians in Virginia and Mississippi are advocating dropping the symbol from license plates and the latter state’s flag (pictured).
The Louisiana Governor declared his intention to run for president over social media hours before a scheduled New Orleans rally. The 44-year old will became the first ever Indian-American to seek the nation’s highest office, even though his possible candidacy seems like a long-shot based on early polls placing him far behind other candidates. Jindal will reportedly focus his campaign on repealing the Affordable Care Act and strengthening U.S. defense, among other goals. The Louisiana native was a popular governor early in his term but has recently endured criticism over tax strategies.
It’s a power play. Just a week before the June 30 nuclear deal deadline, Iran’s supreme leader broadcast “red lines” ruling out military site inspections and long-term development bans, while demanding immediate sanctions relief. Many saw his speech as last-minute bargaining hot air, but if Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s words hold sway, they could stymie negotiations nearly a decade in the making and just days from final compromises. Without Iran’s permission to let inspectors visit suspected nuclear production sites, it’s unlikely a deal will be inked.
They’re all but out of time. Athens and the EU have been playing chicken for weeks, each hoping the other would flinch first. Now, as its $1.8 billion loan payment to the IMF draws near, Greece has realized it’s the one with everything to lose. With his nation’s financial system at the breaking point, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to levy higher pension fund contributions and tax hikes. But even if that placates European lenders, this drama is set for an encore this fall when more Greek loans come due.
Death toll soars in Pakistan’s heat wave. (CNN)
ISIS blows up ancient shrines near Palmyra. (Al Jazeera)
Activist suit prompts ruling forcing Holland to cut CO2. (BBC)
Scottish lawmakers’ stinginess could evict the queen. (The Guardian)
Europe’s Ahold-Delhaize merger creates U.S. grocery giant. (WSJ) sub
Hold the jelly! A lab-grown lamb whose genes had been pumped with jellyfish DNA to aid cardiovascular research may have ended up on the forks of unwitting French diners. Bred at one of France’s top agricultural institutes, “Rubis” was sold, perhaps accidentally, to a slaughterhouse and then to an unidentified individual, presumably for dinner. The lamb carried a gene that makes skin transparent and cell components fluorescent, but didn’t express those traits. French authorities, who say the meat carried a negligible health risk, are investigating, and the supervisor responsible may face charges.
But where will Superman change? The Internet giant’s new Sidewalk Labs start-up is throwing its weight behind LinkNYC, a plan to replace New York City’s old pay phone booths with public Wi-Fi hotspot pillars. The program will later spread to other cities and eventually nationwide, potentially bringing the 55 million Americans without high-speed Internet access into the Google fold. It’s not clear which firms will eventually provide the connectivity — but Google may soon see its Fiber pilot program gain altitude.
Lexus is known as a luxury brand for a mature crowd but its engineers have created something a bit more youthful and swift – futuristic hoverboards straight out of Back to the Future. The company has built a working prototype that runs on magnets and liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors, the same tech being used to test-run levitating cars and trains in Japan. Tests with the board are expected to begin this summer in Barcelona for a late October tie-in with the 1980s films, which portrayed the year 2015 as a flying vehicle-filled paradise.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it — just don’t expect it to calm your angst. In a new analysis of 80 clinical trials on cannabinoid therapy, researchers attempted to make sense of the studies — most of them more than a decade old — to extract useful conclusions. They found that ganja can be great for chronic pain, but not so much for anxiety, and that further study is needed. With medical marijuana legal in 23 U.S. states, volunteer subjects are no doubt anxious to help cut through the haze.
Marry in haste, repent when she’s stalking you on a reality TV competition. 3 Ball Entertainment plans to exploit the 2005 blockbuster starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as secret assassins — the one in which they fell in love — as a reality game show for couples. They haven’t released many details beyond the phrase “high-octane,” but the series will pit spouses against one another onscreen. Where might this lead? Perhaps winners could advance to a competitive reboot of 19 Kids and Counting.
Déjà vu, much? After dropping the first game of the best-of-three series, the University of Virginia capitalized on a few errors and timely batting to beat Vanderbilt 3-0 yesterday, setting up a winner-take-all between the two teams for the second straight year. In a surprise start on the mound, UVA freshman Adam Haseley pitched a shutout into the sixth inning. Today the Cavaliers put their championship hopes in the hands of starter Brandon Waddell, while Vanderbilt swings for their second straight title.