They’re at it again. North Korea stirred up trouble today by firing a shell at a South Korean military unit — launching a projectile at the town of Yoencheon, where it was perhaps gunning for a loudspeaker broadcasting anti-North rhetoric. Seoul responded by firing back with 155mm shells and ordering an evacuation of residents along the western border area, a historical flashpoint between the countries. No injuries have been reported, but it’s a troubling development in the tense region, and South Korea has called an emergency meeting to address the situation.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He’s had a rough year. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has announced his resignation and called for a second 2015 election — even though his Syriza party only won power in January. Syriza won over voters with promises of an end to austerity policies, but Tsipras wound up negotiating harsh cuts to Greece’s budget to avoid bankruptcy and allow the country to stay in the EU. The early elections will bring voters to the polls before the new policies take effect, which might allow Syriza to hold on to its edge.
It probably wasn’t an international terrorist group. So say Thai authorities investigating Monday’s deadly bombing at a shrine in central Bangkok. But police are looking for at least 10 people they believe planned the attack that claimed 20 lives. Officials say the “blast was made by teams” from a network within Thailand. Two suspects caught on camera have turned themselves in, saying they’re tour guides and had nothing to do with the explosion, but investigators are scouring the city for others and have asked Interpol for help in finding the culprits.
They’re starving. The U.N. warns that the war-torn country on the Arabian Peninsula is dangerously deprived of sustenance. World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin says Yemen’s markets cannot sustain its population, and humanitarian workers are hampered by fighting around ports and lack of funds. They “cannot wait for a political solution,” he said, referring to the conflict between Houthi rebels and government forces. Now listing it alongside emergency regions like South Sudan and Iraq, the U.N. is rallying for international support, noting that 21 million Yemenis need help right now.
Gov. Jay Inslee is calling on the White House for federal help in battling wildfires that killed three firefighters yesterday in the western U.S. state. Two towns have been evacuated, and the request — sent via the Federal Emergency Management Agency — says up to 11 counties could be impacted by the blazes that have already destroyed more than 50 homes and 235,000 acres of land. The U.S. president sent his “thoughts and prayers” for the victims’ families, and is mulling the declaration request, which could free up significant financial aid and direct assistance.
They need to make up their mind. Low inflation thanks to falling oil prices, combined with a strong U.S. dollar and China’s economic woes, are leaving room for doubt over whether Federal Reserve officials will raise interest rates in September. Minutes from their July meeting reveal that most believe the appropriate conditions for an increase are “approaching” but not quite there. Some experts say the Fed should confidently go for it, but many wonder whether Chair Janet Yellen can decisively steer and retain the credibility of her wavering committee.
Jimmy Carter says doctors have found spots of cancer on his brain. (NYT)
Cairo car bombing near security building injures six. (The Guardian)
Ex-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle to plead guilty to child sex, porn charges. (USA Today)
French, British authorities to launch command center in Calais. (BBC)
Oil prices plummet back to January lows as crude inventories expand. (FT) sub
Angela Merkel begins two-day trip to Brazil. (DW)
Protests in St. Louis lead to nine arrests. (WSJ) sub
Was it a fightin’ Flipper? A Hamas naval unit has reportedly captured a marine mammal armed with camera equipment and arrows off the Gaza Coast. It’s not the first time the Jewish state’s neighbors have made militant animal claims: Turkey and Sudan accused them of using birds tagged with tracking devices in recent years, and an Egyptian official once suggested that tourist-chomping sharks were controlled by Israel. Bizarre, maybe — but the U.S. and others have recruited surveillance marine mammals for years, so perhaps a dolphin hostage drama is about to surface.
They’re still number one. But a new study reveals that Chinese fossil fuel emissions are 14 percent lower than earlier estimates. China’s coal, while dirtier in terms of local air pollution, contains 40 percent less carbon than previously thought, and its cement industry produces 35 to 45 percent less greenhouse gas than suspected. It’s still well ahead of the number two polluter — the U.S. — but the discrepancy could prove a distraction at December’s U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, where 190 countries will try to forge an agreement on limiting emissions.
Mass transit is getting back on track — and diving deep. New plans for underwater trains from Germany to Denmark and Estonia to Finland are just the first wave, with everyone from Canada to China pondering pie-in-the-sky ideas for laying tracks at sea. Though the projects would be wildly expensive, they could offer environmental benefits and a cheaper way to ship freight, all while boosting local economies. For now, hopeful planners worldwide are looking at existing tunnels in Japan, England and Turkey with the mantra … “I think I can.”
She’s not in charge of the TARDIS yet. But when a fan asked the Agent Carter star if she wanted to appear on the popular British TV program, she tweeted “I’d like to BE Doctor Who.” This sparked an online frenzy, with many speculating when the iconic, world-saving role will explore its feminine side. The alien time traveler, after all, has regenerated into many new forms in 900-plus years, and show producer Steven Moffat has said, “I think the next time might be a female Doctor.”
He’s becoming a veteran who’s never set foot on a professional court. The third pick of the 2014 NBA Draft will miss his second straight season after having follow-up surgery on his slow-healing right foot. The Philadelphia 76ers are being extra cautious with their prized young center. Last year, they sidelined the 7-foot Cameroon native beyond his five- to eight-month recovery time and say they plan to do so again. But the team has a backup plan: Their third pick this year nabbed hot Duke prospect Jahlil Okafor.