The U.S. president has left his father’s homeland to head to Ethiopia — the first sitting American leader to do so — for talks with regional leaders about the civil war in South Sudan. Before leaving Kenya, Obama warned of the dangers of corruption and pushed for gay rights, and in Ethiopia he’s expected to discuss the deterioration of democratic freedoms. Set to address the African Union in Addis Ababa tomorrow, the commander in chief is looking to strengthen ties with a key U.S. ally in the fight against terror.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Will the alliance join the fray? Turkey answered long-awaited calls for a response to ISIS late last week, sending jet fighters into Syria, but also targeting Kurdish foes — key U.S. partners against the jihadists — in northern Iraq. The Turkish response, including airstrikes but not ground troops, is seen as critical to creating a “safe zone” for refugees in northern Syria. Ankara has invoked NATO’s Article 4 in response to the threats, calling a Tuesday meeting in which alliance members will discuss Turkey’s defense, which may lead to a bigger anti-militant push.
So much for stability. Chinese shares suffered their biggest one-day fall in eight years today, with the Shanghai Composite closing down 8.5 percent on a tide of weak economic data that’s boosting fears about the strength of China’s economy. The downturn follows news that factory output and profits are contracting, and Monday’s slide comes despite a series of measures by Beijing to shore up stocks in the face of last month’s weeks-long sell-off. With European markets also jittery, following hiccups in talks between Greece and bailout creditors, stocks might be in for a wild ride.
He was known as “India’s Missile Man.” Condolences and remembrances of Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, who served as India’s 11th president from 2002-2007, poured in — Narendra Modi called it a “very sad day for India” — to honor a man who rose from an impoverished Tamil background to become a rocket scientist and his nation’s leader. Kalam, who collapsed and died while giving a lecture, will be flown to New Delhi tomorrow. He’ll be remembered not just for his political power, but for his support and development of India’s space program.
Is Big Oil on a slippery slope? Global energy firms have halted $200 billion worth of new projects in the face of slumping crude, which has dropped by more than half since last year. Nearly 50 big projects are on hold — affecting BP, Shell and Chevron — and over half involve costly deepwater drilling, which could hurt future exploration and production. Chinese market woes aren’t helping matters, but OZY’s Steven Butler, noting how slick investors continue betting billions on it, says “oil always seems to bubble upward.”
Could this spur the country to better safety standards? Though initial security camera video of 30-year-old Xiang Liujuan falling into an escalator’s gears Sunday while pushing her young son out of harm’s way drew some skepticism — and reproach — from the Chinese public, many are now questioning the responsibility of the store she was shopping in. The escalator wasn’t blocked off or marked to indicate any danger, though it was reportedly known to be missing vital parts, and this could lead China to call for a crackdown on shady escalator manufacturing and repair.
Gunmen attack police station in India near Pakistan. (BBC)
Diplomat-frequented hotel bombed in Mogadishu, killing 12. (NYT)
Coast Guard finds missing teens’ empty boat off Fla. coast. (USA Today)
Boston terminates its bid for the 2024 Olympics. (NYT)
Huckabee says Iran deal marches Israelis to ‘the door of the oven.’ (Bloomberg)
Bob Dole campaigns for memorial to President Eisenhower. (Washington Post)
She’s finally at peace. After six months on life support in a medically induced coma, the only child of troubled singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown passed away yesterday at an Atlanta hospice. The cause of death was eerily similar to that of her late mother, Bobbi having been found unresponsive in a bathtub in January. The family thanked the public for their support throughout the ordeal. Bobbi’s conservator has reportedly filed a $10 million lawsuit against her boyfriend, Nick Gordon, alleging physical and financial misdeeds, and local prosecutors are investigating her death.
He was the mane attraction. Cecil, a 13-year-old feline and the most prominent resident of Hwange National Park, has been killed — apparently lured from his protected zone, shot and skinned, with his head taken as a trophy. Authorities are now hunting for their suspect, reportedly a Spanish citizen who they believe paid park guides $50,000 to help him bag the beast. Animal charities are asking EU authorities to keep an eye out for Cecil’s head — to ensure it never gets through customs.
It’s been 15 years, but Chinese gamers will now be able to buy Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony consoles with impunity. Foreign-made consoles have been banned since 2000, with a slight ease in January 2014 that allowed foreign brands into the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. That was a start, but now the big players have a real chance at the 1.3 billion Chinese consumers who might want to buy an Xbox — and Microsoft and Sony have said they’ll be doing their best to break into the $22.2 billion market.
They’ve got life-saving all stitched up. Australian engineers are developing stretchy, transparent sensors — to stick to the skin or be sewn into clothes — that can alert wearers to environmental hazards like UV radiation and toxic gas. When they sense danger, the patches send smartphone alerts with suggestions to take cover, feeding a monitoring system that could warn people of environmental no-go zones. The lifesaving materials are expected to hit the market, and affordably so, within five years.
After a down-to-the-wire semifinal against Panama with goals scored on iffy penalties, Mexico dominated underdog Jamaica yesterday in a 3-1 win. El Tri scored first in the 31st minute off a set piece, when Andres Guardado finished a cross by Paul Aguilar. Jamaica stunned the U.S. in the semis to become the first Caribbean country to reach the final, but they couldn’t score until they were down 3-0. Mexico will now play the U.S. in October for a shot at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.