The U.S. president’s declaring war … on coal. Today, the White House announced its “most important step” yet in the fight against climate change, with plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 32 percent before 2030. The revised regulation — accompanied by the EPA unveiling new state targets — aims to transform the electricity sector while emphasizing greater use of renewable energy sources. But the coal industry says Obama’s new rules would drive up prices, and it’s vowing to fight back legally and through Congress.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’ve got the Moodys blues. It’s the first default for Puerto Rico, which managed to only deliver $628,000 of a $58 million debt payment to creditors of the island’s Public Finance Corporation. The debt is collectively held through its citizens and will primarily negatively impact them rather than outside investors. The island currently faces an overall debt of around $70 billion and is in the middle of what its governor called an economic death spiral. Moody’s said they believe this is merely the first in a series of default payments from the commonwealth.
This isn’t good for the economy. Shut amid the debt crisis five weeks ago, Athens’ main stock index opened today only to suffer a 23 percent plunge before closing 16 percent down. Shortly after opening, the Athex dropped to 615.16 points, down 182.36 points from its June 26 close. The capital markets committee has halted short selling, and the banking index covering Greece’s largest banks hit its volatility limit. Greek leaders negotiated a bailout last month, but infighting and electoral uncertainty have many wondering whether it can stay the course … much less escape recession.
They’re weighing their chances. Jeb Bush’s team is applauding Donald Trump’s bombastic style for pulling votes away from candidates like Govs. Scott Walker and Chris Christie, setting Bush up as the pensive alternative. Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, is reportedly considering a 2016 run, given Hillary Clinton’s recent trouble over her use of private email as secretary of state. Polls put Trump and Clinton in the lead for their respective nominations, but Biden’s decision — expected by September — could help level the playing field.
Will his country slip into recession? Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called for an October 19 election yesterday, with plans to focus his campaign on economic management and national security. New figures indicate that Canada’s economy has contracted for five consecutive months, and Harper may find it impossible to balance the budget this year, despite his promises, owing to plunging oil prices. This means he and fellow conservatives face an even tougher-than-expected challenge from the center-left New Democratic party, whose leader, Tom Mulcair, is already ahead in the polls.
Syrian warplane crashes, kills 27. (NYT)
Nigerian soldiers free 178 Boko Haram captives. (France24)
Jury in Holmes trial keeps death penalty on the table. (NBC)
French to lead investigation into Réunion island debris. (WSJ)
Wildfires threaten thousands of homes in California. (USA Today)
Hong Kong protest held over ‘breast as weapon’ conviction. (TIME)
So much for brotherly love. The experimental hitchhiking machine successfully traversed Germany, Canada and the Netherlands but didn’t make it out of Philly in one piece. HitchBOT could recognize human speech and post social media updates, but it depended on friendly strangers for lifts. On Saturday, just two weeks into a cross-country trek across America, unknown assailants dismantled the social experiment — which aimed to learn about human nature — created by Ontario researchers. The bot’s head is missing, and its creators must now decide whether to salvage the project.
Can learning take a bite out of crime? A pilot program is underway to extend the Pell grant program, which offers money to U.S. college students struggling to pay tuition, to support some prisoners pursuing higher education. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hopes it will reduce recidivism rates and help poorly educated inmates escape a vicious cycle by helping them pay for college, despite legislation that bans inmates from receiving the grants. If the program succeeds, Pell grants and prisons may be in for a real change.
His nickname, “Moose,” was a giveaway. Participation trumps victory in the Special Olympics — drawing some 6,500 athletes from 165 countries — but the fans chanting Jackie Barrett’s name as he set three World Games records in his farewell appearance this weekend were a testament to the 41-year-old Canadian’s popularity. His squat, dead lift and combined weight total after bench press (1,537.7 pounds) were bests in the competition’s 47-year history. Barrett, who said the crowds made him feel “like a superstar,” now looks forward to becoming a powerlifting coach.
Legend has it she was discovered by the Beatles. Black, who hit it big in the mid-’60s with “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” was working as a hat check girl in Liverpool when the Fab Four began championing her career. She became a television star in subsequent decades, hosting Blind Date for 28 years. Black reportedly died on Saturday of natural causes at her home in Spain and is being mourned across social media — with Prime Minister David Cameron tweeting about the loss of “a huge talent.”
He took another victory lap. In his first return to racing since capturing the Triple Crown, the seemingly unstoppable steed blew by the competition at Sunday’s Haskell Invitational. With most of the 60,983 attendees at Monmouth Park cheering him on, the three-year-old appeared even stronger than in June. It was the eighth consecutive win for Pharoah, who’s expected to compete at least one more time before making his final run at the Breeders Cup Classic on October 31 and then heading for the breeding shed.