It’s confirmed. We don’t know how or when Mullah Mohammad Omar died, and no body or burial site has been found, but the Taliban have conceded that the longtime “Commander of the Faithful” and former ruler of Afghanistan is dead. Omar, who had a $10 million bounty on his head, hadn’t been seen in years, but Afghan security services claim he died in 2013. Now the Taliban say Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, the last person to have access to Omar, has been elected commander — causing Friday’s peace talks with the Afghan government to be postponed.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Three thousand migrants are camped out at the French port, desperate and determined to access the English Channel tunnel, rushing train tracks and trucks daily. Now British Prime Minister David Cameron is considering offering land owned by the Ministry of Defense — not to house the migrants, whom he’s labeled a “swarm,” but to park the trucks caught in the tunnel backup. He chaired an emergency meeting today that agreed to provide more fencing and sniffer dogs, standing firm that Britain will keep its doors — and tunnels — closed to the undocumented.
Total immunity could be just a jab away. The WHO says new results from trials of the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine indicate that the shot provides 100 percent immunity to Ebola after ten days. The trial tested on two groups, one vaccinated immediately after exposure and one three weeks later, but the results were so encouraging that researchers decided to give the vaccine to all subjects immediately, to avoid any unnecessary loss of life. Now medical experts are recommending rolling out large-scale vaccinations to rid West Africa of Ebola for good.
They had only one competitor: Almaty, Kazakhstan. But Beijing won out, making it the first city to host both summer and winter games, in an unexpectedly close vote of 44-40. The Beijing games will continue a streak of Olympics hosted in Asia: The 2018 Olympics will be held in South Korea, and the 2020 contest will be in Japan. Now Beijing will have to figure out how to host the snow-focused Winter Games despite its distinct lack of snow or mountains — a lot of man-made snow is likely in their future.
He’s still standing. The Left Platform of Alexis Tsipras’ own Syriza party failed in a bid to force a meeting this weekend aimed at derailing austerity measures to appease eurozone creditors. This comes as Athens begins talks today with those creditors to fill in the fine print of the country’s third bailout, estimated at $93 billion. To placate hard-line Syriza members, the party’s leadership will convene an emergency congress in September to vote on bailout conditions, and Tsipras admits to having a Grexit strategy ready in case talks fail.
He’s free … for now. Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing was released on a $1 million bond after entering a plea of not guilty over the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist, which was caught on video. Tensing is charged with the murder of Samuel DuBose, 43, who was pulled over for a missing front license plate. Friends of the victim briefly interrupted the courtroom proceedings before being silenced. The University Police Department has fired Tensing, 25, but this incident can only exacerbate tensions over police misconduct nationwide.
Investigators scour Réunion beaches for MH370 clues. (AP)
Palestinian toddler dies after West Bank arson attack. (BBC)
Judge enters not guilty pleas for Dylann Roof. (ABC)
Police break up Portland oil ship protest. (USA Today)
Kidnappers take four Indian teachers in Libya. (Al Jazeera)
South Korean billionaire also wants to run FIFA. (FT) sub
It pays to be a Clinton. The couple earned a combined $141 million over the past eight years but also paid $43 million in federal taxes. They also paid $13 million in state taxes and donated $15 million to charities during that same period. In a statement on her campaign website, Clinton said she and Bill owed their newfound wealth to the “opportunities America provides.” Tax records have become an attack front in the early 2016 skirmishes, with the records of Jeb Bush, Donald Trump and now Hilary, all making headlines and creating fodder for the opposition.
We all pay the piper, eventually. One of the great heels in professional wrestling died on Friday from natural causes. Roderick George Toombs also enjoyed an acting career, starring in John Carpenter’s cult classic “They Live.” But it was his time in the ring that he’ll be most remembered for, facing off against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in the first Wrestlemania and becoming a pop icon in the mid-80’s. The 61-year-old survived Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2006 and had been deemed cancer free. So far, no reports have indicated if that played a role in his passing.
It’s a chance to start a conversation. Mark Zuckerberg announced that he and his wife are expecting a baby girl in a Facebook post that garnered more than half a million likes and tens of thousand of comments. Beyond just announcing the pregnancy, Zuckerberg confided that he and wife Priscilla Chan, a doctor, had been through multiple miscarriages while trying to conceive — and encouraged people to talk more about their experiences rather than hiding them. Though he didn’t say when the baby’s due, he said he’s “hopeful” that at this point it’ll go off without a hitch.
No, you’re not high. The back rooms of Capitol Hill are becoming kinder to cannabis campaigners, despite Drug Enforcement Administration efforts to spoil the buzz. While the District of Columbia may continue to struggle with Republicans over enacting voter-approved legalization, pro-pot measures haven’t all been blunted. Just last week, a House committee approved an amendment allowing weed businesses access to federal banking services, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a soft spot for the hemp industry. Legalization advocates say it isn’t reefer madness, but the beginning of Mary Jane momentum.
Cecil may have taught us something. Zimbabwe’s celebrated lion, cut down in his prime by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, has elicited tears from many, including Jimmy Kimmel. Palmer may be hiding from a sad and angry public, but why can’t Kimmel display the waterworks when, say, a cop shoots an unarmed motorist? OZY’s Kate Crane posits that if the talk star could rack up more than 6 million views on a YouTube video about Cecil, “maybe the same tears could work on an issue of profound cultural relevance.”
It could change everything. Hoping to advance medicine, disaster detection and security, the president has launched the National Strategic Computing Initiative to create a system 20 times faster than today’s speediest by 2025. The first exascale computer would be capable of one quintillion — a billion billion — calculations per second. While the Americans already lead the world in overall supercomputing capacity, China owns the fastest model. A lack of coordination between U.S. federal agencies has made research funding difficult, but if the new initiative can decode the bureaucracy, anything is possible.
He’s crawling from the wreckage. In March, Jeremy Clarkson got fired from his wildly popular BBC show Top Gear after he bloodied one of his producers. Now, sensing there’s an audience for his brand of brashness, Amazon Prime will air a car show featuring the disgraced Brit and former co-hosts James May and Richard Hammond. “I feel like I’ve climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship,” Clarkson said of the unnamed show. It’s slated to launch next year, giving his new bosses time to buckle up.
The fast times are over. Local authorities charged the Atlanta forward with felony possession of 10.9 grams of MDMA and one ounce of marijuana after Scott and his younger brother allegedly led police on a two-mile chase reaching 98 mph Thursday morning. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer didn’t address the 27-year-old’s status with the team, saying he would allow the legal process to play out first. Scott averaged 7.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 68 games last season, but now his future may depend on another court’s record.