The glow could be seen from space. Twin blasts at a port-side chemical warehouse in this northern Chinese city last night killed at least 50 — including 12 firemen — and injured at least 500. The first explosion was followed by a second, stronger one that seismic experts have equated to detonating 21 tons of TNT. Shockwaves were felt for miles, with windows blown out and entire office blocks destroyed. At least 36 firemen are missing, and dozens of the injured remain in critical condition, with the death toll likely to rise.
The Presidential Daily Brief
“We are rooting for you,” President Obama told the 39th American commander in chief, who revealed his illness yesterday. The news follows Carter’s surgery to have a small mass removed from his liver, but he’s been told the cancer has spread to other parts of his body. The 90-year-old Georgia native and tireless statesman — whose family has a history of pancreatic cancer — says he’ll tell us more when he can and that he plans to undergo treatment. Offering reassurances, Obama told Carter “you’re as resilient as they come.”
Shopping for food proved deadly for 58 people today in Baghdad’s Jameela market, where a massive truck bomb in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood injured scores of others. The vehicle, reportedly a refrigeration truck, blended easily with the fruit and vegetable stands, with the suicide bomber behind the wheel striking the crowded market as residents clamored to collect food for the weekend. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, its latest attempt to terrorize the Shiite-controlled government and heighten sectarian tension within an increasingly unstable Iraq.
Scrutinizing the jet set is too rich for their blood. Tax authorities worldwide are not doing enough to monitor their richest constituents, says the Paris-based OECD, noting that less than a third of 56 tax branches it investigated have dedicated units for keeping the super-rich in check. The findings were labeled “surprising,” given the cash-generating potential of better surveillance. And with many governments wanting to clamp down on tax evasion to line public coffers, this is likely to boost pressure on officials to squeeze the world’s wealthiest citizens.
Croatian captive reportedly beheaded by ISIS. (CNN)
Myanmar’s ruling party chief is ousted in power struggle. (BBC)
Chelsea Manning could face solitary confinement. (USA Today)
Connecticut Supreme Court bans executions. (Washington Post)
Yuan devaluation hints at increased economic sluggishness. (NYT)
Sweden to drop sexual assault inquiry against Julian Assange. (BBC)
They’re “getting the old gang together.” So say supporters of the former U.S. vice president and 2000 Democratic nominee, who are reportedly considering a 2016 primary bid. One notably doused candidacy rumors with “lukewarm water,” rather than an icy denial. Since winning the popular vote but losing the election 15 years ago, Gore, 67, has won an Oscar and a Nobel Prize. He declined to endorse Hillary Clinton in 2008, and his signature project, climate change, has risen in prominence. But is he ready — and willing — for one more run?
Some viewers are just too young for True Detective. Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch and lovable furry old Grover will be migrating to HBO this fall, where the premium channel will air episodes nine months before they become available on PBS. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Sesame Workshop will now make 35 episodes per season — and a spin-off series — whereas before they were capped at 18. This could be a lifesaver for the beloved kids’ show, which had seen revenue decrease with DVD sales as tots turned to Netflix and YouTube.
They’re just not feeling it. A survey of full-time employees in the U.K. reveals that 37 percent see their jobs as “meaningless,” while only half find value in their work and are proud to tell others about it. The survey showed that men, those living in urban areas and the working class were the least happy with their employment, meaning that there’s apparently more fulfillment in the countryside — and among women. Yet the majority in “meaningless” positions said it’s unlikely they will switch jobs anytime soon.
They have eight arms to hold each other tight. The larger Pacific Striped octopus — its head is only an inch long — mates face-to-face, which is unique among cephalopods. New observations have seen it sneak up on unsuspecting shrimp, stretching an arm around them to tap their prey on the far shoulder in a prank that results in dinner. When first discovered in 1977, scientists rejected a formal description of it as just too weird, but further research may see this octopus designated as a new species.
They’re going after the green. Last year, legal pot sales worldwide hit $2.7 billion, and Viridian Capital Advisors, an investment bank and advisory firm devoted entirely to cannabis, predicts that pot is the next big cash crop. Regulations make it tough to enter the game of investing in pot ventures, so traditional banks often bow out, leaving a vacuum that can accommodate firms like Viridian that are willing to do the legwork. It’s a budding opportunity — but increased regulation and reliance on cash could see some profits go up in smoke.
Dog-loving film buffs are mourning the loss of The Artist’s breakout star. He had been suffering from prostate cancer and was put to sleep last Friday, according to his bereft owner, L.A. animal trainer Omar von Muller. Uggie, who won the Palm Dog Award at Cannes in 2011 for his work on the French flick, found work in other films — though never the same acclaim. But he’ll long be remembered as the first dog to have his paw immortalized outside the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
He wants to see more. Judge Richard Berman is demanding the NFL provide more evidence tying the New England Patriots quarterback to the “deflategate” scandal that resulted in his four-game suspension for the upcoming season. League lawyer Daniel Nash cited “considerable evidence” during yesterday’s settlement hearing but admitted there is no “smoking gun.” Brady and Commissioner Roger Goodell failed to reach a settlement, and another hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday. But if they fail to compromise, Berman is expected to make a ruling before September 4.