They’re at it again. U.S. Strategic Command said the nuclear-armed pariah fired two presumed Rodong intermediate-range ballistic missiles Wednesday morning. One exploded immediately after launch, but the second test was one of North Korea’s longest — flying about 621 miles before splashing down 125 miles from Japan’s northeast coast, the Japanese defense ministry reported. The rogue nation’s fuming over missile defense collaboration between the U.S. and South Korea. The Hermit Kingdom’s done several tests this year, and more are expected in the coming weeks ahead of annual U.S.-South Korea military drills.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The gloves have come off. Calling Donald Trump ‘unfit’ to be president, Barack Obama has called on top Republican leaders to withdraw support for their nominee. The G.O.P. elite has yet to denounce Trump outright, though many from Paul Ryan to John McCain have responded strongly to his recent attacks on the family of a Muslim-American soldier who died in Iraq. The president called Republicans’ criticism of Trump “hollow” without action: “If you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him?” Obama said.
He couldn’t wait for the results. Post-convention polls show Hillary Clinton with a sizable bounce — more than the gains Donald Trump made after the Republican convention. Trump on Monday referred to Clinton as “the devil” and said he fears the general election “is going to be rigged” against him. Trump confidant Roger Stone had already pushed this line of thinking last week on a radio talk show, raising questions about voting machines and predicting a Clinton victory would spur a “constitutional crisis,” widespread “civil disobedience” and even a “bloodbath.”
Was it revenge? Yesterday, a Russian military helicopter was shot down near the town of Saraqeb in northern Syria, where rescue group Syria Civil Defence reports today that a helicopter has dropped barrels containing suspected chlorine gas. It’s unclear who was behind the attack, which has affected at least 33 people. Previous investigations have linked chlorine gas attacks — a practice banned by international law — to Assad’s regime. But with rebels and government forces still fighting in nearby Aleppo, inquiries may be slowed.
They’re taking aim. American air strikes hit ISIS positions in Moammar Gadhafi’s homeland yesterday, targeting the extremist stronghold of Sirte. President Obama approved intervention after a request from Libya’s U.N.-backed government. Local ground forces have been fighting against ISIS in the area for some time now, but with few significant strategic gains. Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj says “heavy losses” resulted from the strikes — which signal an apparent U.S. willingness to intervene on the Libyan unity government’s behalf, perhaps hoping to inspire cohesion among anti-ISIS factions.
It’ll make your blood run cold. Mosquito-eradication efforts aimed at controlling Zika infections have been tried in Florida for weeks — but 14 locally transmitted cases have been confirmed. Authorities in the U.S. and U.K. are advising pregnant women not to visit Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, and to avoid conceiving children until eight weeks after visiting. It’s believed to be the first CDC travel advisory within the continental U.S. Gov. Rick Scott’s calling for an emergency task force, while many worry this will put a chill on Florida tourism.
They’re taking the easing way out. In an attempt to curb deflation and currency values, the Reserve Bank of Australia has brought rates down to 1.5 percent — the second cut in four months. The island nation’s economy has been slowing as its industrial mining boom sputters to a halt and attempts are made to switch to a services-based model. The Australian dollar fell 0.6 percent at the news, but swiftly rebounded 0.2 percent — spurring predictions that there’ll be more easing down under before the end of 2016.
Benghazi suicide bombing kills at least 23. (USA Today)
Eight sick with anthrax in reindeer-spread outbreak in Siberia. (BBC)
Japan approves $274 billion stimulus package. (WSJ) sub
Signatures approved for presidential recall in Venezuela. (BBC)
Kesha scales back legal fight against producer Dr. Luke. (Rolling Stone)
New Texas law allows guns in college classrooms. (Reuters)
It’s the next tiny thing. With the global population set to hit 9 billion by 2050, scientists need to boost food production. But to minimize collateral damage to the environment, some are turning to precision agriculture — targeted use of fertilizer and water — and nanotechnology. Three promising developments include nanoparticles that boost plants’ ability to absorb nutrients, nanocapsules that release a steady pesticide supply and nanosensor systems that control moisture levels. While no regulatory framework exists — and plenty of safety tests await — a green revolution to shrink tomorrow’s farming solutions is taking root.
A wild lawsuit appeared! In what’s apparently the first legal action against Niantic Inc. and Nintendo over the ubiquitous augmented reality game, one man claims his domestic tranquility has been harmed by at least five people who’ve knocked at his door seeking access to his backyard — home of a feral Pokemon. He claimed Pokemon Go’s creators showed “flagrant disregard” for the consequences of putting virtual animals in the real world. But one gaming law expert warns that if courts take such complaints seriously, it’ll be a “terrible blow” for augmented reality.
This land wasn’t made for you and me. After more than a century of disputes, Native Americans have won back the right to forage for berries and grasses in national parks, a practice key to rituals and traditions like basket weaving. It had been banned in Washington State’s Mount Rainier National Park since its designation in 1899. Now, tribes are planning once-outlawed pilgrimages and gatherings to collect plants that have long had special significance to their communities — as long as they can prove they’re using sustainable methods.
Do you not think so far ahead? The crooner’s set Friday for the release of Boys Don’t Cry, the follow-up to his critically adored debut album. The year-delayed sequel to 2012’s Channel Orange will only be sold by Apple Music at first. Ocean reportedly worked with producers Pharrell Williams and Danger Mouse, as well as rapper Lil B. He’ll also be releasing a video and Apple stores will sell Boys with a printed publication. The album will go into wide release after two weeks — if you can wait.
It was down to the wire. The American League might have a new top dog, after the Rangers nabbed slugger Carlos Beltrán, catcher Jonathan Lucroy and reliever Jeremy Jeffress — all in the hour before Monday’s Major League Baseball trade deadline. Texas has overperformed so far, but now it’s solidified its squad for a playoff run in the wide-open AL. And don’t forget Cleveland, which bolstered its bullpen with Andrew Miller. By unloading Miller, Beltrán and pitcher Aroldis Chapman for untested prospects, the Yankees’ team-building is clearly looking past this season.