He’s ready for a rising son. Emperor Akihito, 82, appeared today in an unprecedented prerecorded 10-minute address about his fitness to serve. An emperor’s reign is lifelong, but Akihito spoke in vague yet forceful terms about his concern that his health will impede fulfillment of his imperial duties. It’s rumored that he’d like his 56-year-old son, Crown Prince Naruhito, to take over — but abdication will require amending imperial law. Some Japanese citizens are opposed, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government must “think carefully” about a way forward.
The Presidential Daily Brief
So he wasn’t a double agent? Iran admitted today it has hung nuclear scientist Hahram Amiri for espionage after his family reported rope marks on his body. In 2010, during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, he complained that U.S. operatives spirited him to America and psychologically tortured him, while U.S. authorities said they’d paid him $5 million for nuclear secrets. Amiri returned home that year, was hailed as an Iranian double agent, but vanished. Last year Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear activities and began cracking down on U.S.-linked Iranians.
It’s about sharing. Saturday ended with the U.S., China and Japan with five medals each, but Australia and Hungary topped the gold count with two apiece, with Aussie swimmers winning the Men’s 400-Meter Freestyle and setting a record in the Women’s 100-Meter Freestyle Relay, while Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu broke the Women’s 400-Meter Individual Medley record and fencer Emese Szasz won the Women’s Épée fencing competition. Past singles winner Venus Williams was eliminated, but this evening will team up with sister Serena, trying to boost the pair’s unmatched tennis medal tally.
Is he a Wannabe? New polls show Donald Trump’s deficit vs. Hillary Clinton widening to eight points and a whopping 23 points among female voters. It’s a stark sign after Clinton being labeled “President” in a Republican Congressional fundraising appeal by House Speaker Paul Ryan. It hasn’t helped that Trump spent a week encouraging Russian espionage and angering military families. But his campaign coffers are filling up, and he’s doing damage control, belatedly endorsing fellow Republicans Ryan and Sen. John McCain for re-election — so a new “Teflon Don” might still emerge.
Bull’s-eye! West Virginia NCAA champion shooter Ginny Thrasher, 19, won the Rio Olympics’ first gold medal Saturday morning with a record-setting performance in the women’s 10-meter air rifle. She outshot favorite and gold medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics Du Li of China, who settled for silver. Later, Tour de France winner Chris Froome was an also-ran as Belgian Greg Van Avermaet sprinted from behind to capture gold in the 147-mile road race, and Moroccan boxer Hassan Saada was disqualified after being accused of sexually assaulting two Olympic Village housekeepers.
Is it the wildest Olympiad ever? Debatable, but the Games that opened Friday night — with pageantry featuring Brazil’s diversity, environmental issues and even legacy of slavery — seems to have gone the distance before the first starting pistol. There’s banned Russian dopers, the Zika virus, terror threats, presidents facing trials and a hijab-wearing American fencer. And yes, there will be sports, from U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps trying to build his unprecedented medal tally to gymnast Simone Biles stealing hearts to golf’s introduction, along with revelry that only Rio can provide.
It’s known for the unspeakable. Kavumu, a small village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, has one claim to fame. Since 2013, it’s been the site of a horrific rape epidemic victimizing some 40 girls as young as 11 months. But these attacks lack an obvious motive. The government has detained rebels they say encouraged their fighters to rape children, but the assaults continue, while international and local authorities investigating the crimes have been targeted. With victims ostracized and the younger generation psychologically scarred, Kavumu’s children continue to wait for salvation.
Was the pavement level? On Monday, the ride-sharing superpower beat a retreat from China, summoning comparisons to Napoleon losing Russia and leaving observers wondering what happened. For starters, the People’s Republic’s vaunted openness seems to have given way to nationalism, prohibiting Uber’s competitive strategy of below-cost pricing and helping competitor Didi Chuxing buy out Uber’s mainland operation. But it was also simple business: Being late to market and Didi’s nimbleness contributed to Uber hemorrhaging $2 billion, providing a cautionary tale for lesser travelers on China’s road to success.
Paralympic committee bans disabled Russians from Rio games. (AP)
Floods kill 20 in Macedonia during freak downpour. (BBC)
Syrian Islamist rebels claim to have broken siege of Aleppo. (Euronews)
French gymnast suffers devastating leg fracture at Olympics. (NYDN)
Thais approve military government-written constitution. (BBC)
Tandem skydivers plummet to deaths in Northern California accident. (CNN)
This how it ends. After 19 major league seasons and weeks of “painful and embarrassing” bench-warming, A-Rod will play his final game Friday, then become a $21-million-a-year adviser/instructor. “This is a tough day,” the 41-year-old slugger told reporters today. He’s had his share, including during his doping suspension for the entire 2014 season. He returned last year to hit 33 homers, but has hit just .209 with nine longballs this season. What about trades? According to team’s manager, nobody’s asked, and Rodriguez says he’s “at peace” with the decision.
It’s a grim task. Yasuo Takamatsu is still seeking closure after his wife disappeared in March 2011, when Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami, and Masaaki Narita lost all trace of his daughter. With little hope, the men have taken up scuba diving, searching for any tangible link to their loved ones, both of whom were swept away from the roof of a bank where they worked. Much of the rebuilding from the disaster that killed tens of thousands is complete, but the emotional scars will take far longer to heal.
Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated. Denis Cuspert had the makings of a breakout hip-hop career. Born to a Ghanaian immigrant and a white German, he drew inspiration from N.W.A. and Tupac. But after prison and poor album sales in Berlin, Deso Dogg became Abu Talha al-Almani, moved to Syria and started producing ISIS propaganda. His videos about killing infidels and suicide bombings have been ISIS hits — especially after reports he’d been “killed” by a coalition airstrike proved false, boosting his rep as the drones keep searching.
The kids are not all right. While the American student drinking problem is on the decline, white kids with overprotective parents are the most likely to overindulge. The last big study of drinking on U.S. college campuses was in 1994, but recent social surveys show that wealthy white students are top candidates for extreme alcohol use — and the health trouble and criminal consequences that can result. Black students, on the other hand, are the least likely to binge on booze — but more likely to suffer severe repercussions for out-of-control behavior.
When you browse Airbnb, you can click through cities in a second, Tokyo to Paris to Rio. And yet, except for the view out the window, the various destinations are all starting to look the same. White walls, Eames chairs and reclaimed wood are all part of AirSpace, the rarefied international ecosystem that’s breeding a creeping uniformity in high-end cafés and rental apartments around the globe. AirSpace may be desirable, allowing us to feel at home anywhere. But many worry it’s turning the world’s most distinctive places into homogenized clones.
Take your pick. The real estate mogul and the former secretary of state are starring in an epic unpopularity contest. But historic dissatisfaction with the candidates hasn’t dulled voter interest in the November election. Eighty percent of registered voters, according to Pew Research, say they have given the race “quite a lot” of thought. That’s the highest rate since 1992, and even higher than the 72 percent in 2008, leading some experts to predict long lines — and many pinched noses — at the ballot box.