He’ll be bringing royal concerns. Next week, the U.S. president will host recently crowned King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, and Iran will top the agenda. The Saudis are said to have reluctantly endorsed the pending nuclear agreement — even though their Persian Gulf neighbors are backing rival factions in Yemen’s civil war — and the two leaders are slated to discuss Iran’s “destabilizing activities” in the region. Meanwhile, members of Congress are squaring off to debate the deal the following week as it appears increasingly unlikely that a “no” vote will be veto-proof.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It was the most tumultuous week for global stock markets in years. It seemed the bottom had dropped out of Chinese markets, and U.S. stocks’ immunity to Asia’s woes wore off, triggering a series of scary drops followed by record gains. Even though U.S. indexes rose slightly for the week, $29.5 billion drained from equity-based funds. And rather than beat a hasty retreat to bonds, many investors opted for cash, boosting money markets by $22 billion and increasing pressure on the Fed to restore calm by backing off plans to raise interest rates.
As recently as the 1990s, thousands of children in Baltimore were exposed to lead paint. Many suffered cognitive damage, including a kid named Freddie Gray, whose death in police custody sparked riots this past April. Lead poisoning meant victims could win structured settlement checks from landlords, but it also made them targets of companies offering quick payouts — sometimes at pennies on the dollar — in exchange for settlement rights. Gray was one such victim, and news of these abuses has prompted a U.S. Congressman to promise to investigate and possibly pursue federal reforms.
They’re shooting with a new kind weapon. Living amid a 40-year war in Western Sahara, members of the Sahrawi ethnic group have been refugees for two generations. In this unlikely setting, the Abidin Kaid Saleh Audiovisual School teaches kids to make movies with the support of FiSahara, a charity that has attracted stars like Penélope Cruz to its annual film festival. But the school doesn’t just fuel youthful creativity. Backed by rebel fighters, it also has a political agenda — to protect the Sahrawis from the encroaching influence of Moroccan culture.
Texas Deputy’s Murder Linked to ‘National Rhetoric,’ Migrant Truck Death Suspects in Hungarian Court
Texas sheriff points to anti-police sentiment in deputy’s ‘assassination.’ (USA Today)
Suspects in deaths of 71 migrants in truck charged in Hungary. (BBC)
Thai Police arrest Turkish suspect in Erawan temple bombing. (CNN)
Al Jazeera journalists get prison terms after new Egyptian trial. (LA Times)
Turkey launches first airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. (McClatchy)
The factory brought jobs, and residents of Parkersburg, W. Va., were grateful. But cows died near the plant’s landfill, and then came birth defects and cancer, pitting farmers and factory workers against both DuPont — the multinational behind Teflon and Kevlar — and employees unwilling to lose their paychecks. Many plaintiffs died before they could collect from a $374 million settlement over the company’s use of C8, a contaminant that’s also a common plastics ingredient found the world over. Now scientists argue that C8’s replacements pose risks and are urging the government to restrict their use.
Zombies aren’t the only ones jonesin’ for gray matter. Scientists are trying to create a machine that mimics the cranial CPU — in the hopes of shedding light on organic brain function and allowing research that doesn’t depend on organ donors. Researchers in Australia have made a key advance, saving information the way your brain does. Using such tech, scientists might someday build a human-like brain, making artificial intelligence a genuine possibility. But don’t get too excited — first they need to advance beyond simulating 1 percent of the brain’s staggering computing power.
They are ghosts who bring life. The white Kermode bear of British Columbia is known among the Kitasoo/Xai’xais people as the Moksgm’ol, or spirit bear. There are only about 300 tribe members and 100 bears, and each group holds the key to the other’s survival. Their strategy rests on developing ecotourism centered upon “the panda of Canada” while battling an oil pipeline they say threatens the wilderness. Weapons in their battle include images of the Moksgm’ol on activists’ literature and possibly, locals believe, the good fortune the bears’ presence confers.
He’s lighting fires, but not feeling the heat. The last time Quentin Tarantino believed he was “in competition with anybody” was when he made Kill Bill in 2003. Now he’s half done with his eighth film, aptly titled The Hateful Eight. The Pulp Fiction auteur’s latest project is, like Django Unchained, a Western interwoven with the Civil War and the racism that defined it. He’s “very excited” that Americans are again talking about race, a persistent wound that, when Eight comes out in five months, he’ll be happy to disturb.
Are you ready for some spreadsheets? With the NFL season kicking off Thursday night, it’s time to start obsessing over arcane statistical trivia. One intrepid sportswriter has investigated the question of whether Seattle is so physically overwhelming that opposing teams predictably go on to lose their next game. Even victorious rivals in 2014 were among victims of the latest seven-day curse streak, who went 0-10 in their following-week games. The conclusion? It’s probably a fluke, but team psychologists can be forgiven for anticipating a Hangover III for Seattle opponents.