A year later, they’re still awaiting answers. Loved ones are gathering to pay tribute to the 298 victims of Flight MH17, shot down over Ukraine a year ago today. Pro-Russian separatists are believed to have fired upon the Malaysia Airlines plane heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. But Russia denies this, instead blaming Ukrainian forces. This week, some relatives filed a nearly $900 million lawsuit in the U.S. against a one-time leader of the Ukrainian rebels. And a British official today called for an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Was it terrorism? That’s what many are wondering after a Kuwaiti-born man carrying an AK-47 and 30-round magazines allegedly attacked two Tennessee military facilities, killing four Marines and wounding three others before dying of a gunshot wound. Witnesses say suspected shooter Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, sprayed bullets at a recruitment office before a deadly second attack at a naval reserve center. President Obama offered condolences while promising a thorough investigation, and the FBI, having established no links between Abdulazeez and international terrorists, has begun investigating his travel to Jordan last year.
It was the end of a long week on the commuter train near Johannesburg when two trains collided and one partially derailed, according to reports. Though 326 people were sent to area hospitals, nobody died as the result of the crash, and many of the injuries were minor. Another hundred unhurt passengers were bussed directly home from the accident. Some reports are saying that a moving train hit a stopped train — but the cause of the crash is still unclear, and authorities are currently investigating.
It’s now a matter of life or death. After 11 weeks of testimony and nearly two days of deliberation, a Denver jury convicted Holmes on all 165 counts relating to the July 2012 movie theater massacre that left 12 dead and 70 wounded. The 27-year-old — who had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity — showed little reaction to the verdict, his hands in his pockets. Jurors mulling life in prison or the death penalty will now hear additional testimony before deciding his fate.
Now there are two reasons to celebrate. Angela Merkel spent her 61st birthday convincing her parliament to approve a third Greek bailout. Forty-eight conservative MPs threatened to defy her, but Merkel got decisive approval, 439-119, in the Bundestag’s lower house. Perhaps even more important, she got her finance minister, Wolfgang Schauble, to stand with her on the deal, despite his public arguments that Greece should make a temporary exit from the euro. Meanwhile, Greece, equipped with emergency funding, plans to reopen its banks on Monday.
Saudi-backed troops supporting exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi claim to have pushed Shiite rebels from their strongholds in Aden, in a bid to usher in the “happiest” ever Eid for the end of Ramadan. Several officials from Yemen’s exiled government returned to the city for the first time in months yesterday, and Vice President Khaled Bahah today announced the city’s liberation. While Houthi rebels are still reportedly on the outskirts, the government is vowing to restore life, water and electricity to the southern seaside town.
Greek forest fires threaten homes on outskirts of Athens. (BBC)
Typhoon Nangka claims two in Japan, 550,000 told to flee. (Japan Times)
Brazil opens corruption probe against former president. (France24)
Twin bomb attacks in Nigeria kill at least 30. (DW)
Tehran’s hardliners react negatively to nuclear deal. (NYT)
Aspen Foods recalls 1.9 million pounds of chicken. (LA Times)
This one burns. After a wildfire leapt onto the 15 freeway, San Bernardino firefighters attempted to send rescue planes and helicopters to the scene to help put out at least 20 vehicles and one boat that had been engulfed in the 2,000 acre blaze. However, the “mass casualty incident” has been inflamed by a civilian drone flying near the scene, forcing authorities to down a DC-10 jumbo jet tanker carrying 10,800 gallons of flame retardant. At least 70-80 vehicles were abandoned on the freeway thousands of residents take every Friday as a fast route to Las Vegas.
They know what they’re worth. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have both called for a third-party review of FIFA’s practices. A formal request sent by the world’s largest soft drink manufacturer calls for an independent leader to oversee FIFA’s efforts to reform its human rights requirement and governance rules. The company letter said an outside monitor would be the fastest way to restore the soccer governing body’s tattered reputation with the public. Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and other major sponsors contribute about $1.56 billion FIFA in conjunction withthe World Cup every four years.
The cat’s out of the bag. Officials Down Under want to cull two million feral felines by 2020 in a bid to save native wildlife. More than 100 species, including the hairy-nosed wombat and boobook owl, are being threatened by cats — first introduced by colonists — roaming the countryside in search of meals. Noting that one wild cat can kill up to 20 animals a day, the government’s efforts also include asking Australians to help track the ferocious felines, and creating safe havens for endangered indigenous species.
Will it be a feather in their cap? The missing link between birds and dinosaurs is a moving target, but scientists in China have discovered Zhenyuanlong, a five-foot dromaeosaur that may be one of the last bird-like dinos before the evolutionary transition. This cousin of Velociraptor had large feathered wings — but it’s unclear why, because the beast was likely too heavy to fly. “Seeing a dinosaur with feathers is seeing evolution in action,” raved one paleontologist, hoping Zhenyuanlong will help research take off.
She declared guilt by association. The Massachusetts liberal stalwart has sworn off a 2016 White House campaign but Elizabeth Warren is warning Hillary Clinton and other Democrats against appointing cabinet members who have worked in the market. Speaking at the liberal Netroots Nation conference, she specifically wants candidates to support legislation by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, which would prohibit bonuses for Wall Street executives who later take jobs in the federal government. Clinton has made some conciliatory promises to her liberal base but Warren’s speech shows the left will be watching Clinton’s moves closely throughout the campaign.
Read it and weep, trolls. A week into his job as CEO, Steve Huffman announced new restrictions, including a “not safe for work” tag requiring users to log in before reading less “decent” content. Changes also include shuttering subreddit “/r/raping women,” for violating the site’s ban on inciting violence, and reclassifying racist content as NSFW. Though official policy changes will await the creation of enforcement tools, Reddit’s clearly gearing up to battle cyber-bullies. Former CEO Ellen Pao still has hope, saying, “I’m rooting for the humans over the trolls.”
A new class will soon be in session. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters is getting some fresh faces to fill familiar roles. Director Bryan Singer, who launched the series back in 2000, returns armed with a new generation of mutant thespians, including Oscar Isaac, Sophie Turner and Olivia Munn, to join relative veterans like Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. Hugh Jackman, the only confirmed cast member who’s been in every X-Men film, swears this one, set to hit cinemas next May, will be his very last.
Mr. Smith is going to Los Angeles. The trigger-happy small forward jumped ship from the Houston Rockets after just 55 games, reportedly signing a veteran’s minimum salary. Ironically, it was Smith’s contributions that helped Houston stage a dramatic comeback after falling behind 3 games to 1 to bounce the Clippers from last year’s conference semifinals. It’s been a dramatic but potent off-season for Los Angeles, who re-signed center DeAndre Jordan and netted Paul Pierce to piece together a group of championship worthy contenders.
Will he do it again? That’s the question looming over Dustin Johnson — who spectacularly gave away a late lead at the U.S. Open to Jordan Spieth — after he went up two shots on the 21-year-old American in the first round at St. Andrews yesterday. With two wins already, Spieth hopes to win a Grand Slam in the first three majors of the season. And with bad weather descending on the British Open, the pair’s strong early start — seven and five shots under par — may prove vital.