He’s not fighting it. Ahmad Al Mahdi entered the first-ever guilty plea in the International Criminal Court, admitting to leading a group of Islamic radicals who destroyed all but two of the city’s 16 UNESCO World Heritage site mausoleums dating back nearly seven centuries, which they considered idolatrous. The first war crime prosecution for the destruction of historical artifacts followed the militants’ takeover of much of Mali in 2012. Entering his plea, Al Mahdi warned fellow Muslims against similar acts, saying they ”are not going to lead to any good for humanity.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
Is he tearing down that wall? After launching his campaign promising the mass deportation of illegal immigrants, Republican nominee Donald Trump is testing a softer stance. Trump met with Hispanic leaders over the weekend — and while attendees report he didn’t use the word “legalization,” they felt the conversation was moving that way. The Clinton campaign scoffed at any GOP attempts at Latino outreach, given the mogul’s past incendiary rhetoric. Still, Trump advisors yesterday indicated more of an emphasis on “humane” policies ahead of a major immigration speech Thursday.
Practice makes peril. Even though North Korea has warned the exercises will provoke it to nuke Washington and Seoul into “a heap of ashes,” the United States and South Korea began their annual military drills today. The defection of a high-level U.K.-based diplomat, whom the Hermit Kingdom labeled “human scum,” has further inflamed tensions on the peninsula, raising fears Kim Jong Un will lash out beyond the regime’s recent ballistic missile tests. Mostly computer-simulated war games, the 12 days of drills will involve 25,000 U.S. soldiers and 50,000 South Koreans.
It’s cornering the cancer market. Medivation, a biotech firm, makes prostate cancer drug Xtandi — which brings in about $2 billion per year. Pfizer’s all-cash deal also scores Talazoparib, being developed to alter the DNA of tumor cells to kill them. The deal announced early today represents a victory over several other pharmaceutical behemoths — and cements Pfizer’s place in the $80 billion per year cancer-fighting business while the company decides whether to split in half by the end of the year.
Know This: Four men in Australia broke into a school and deposited three malnourished saltwater crocodiles. The suicide bomber who killed at least 51 people at a wedding in Turkey on Saturday night was no older than 14. And in India, survivors of rape and sexual abuse are using Snapchat filters to hide their identities.
Look at This: To take the Olympic torch for Tokyo at the Rio closing ceremony, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cosplayed as Nintendo’s Mario.
Read This: “Just as there can be excessive use of force on the streets, there also can be excessive use of force in the digital realm — and it is no less painful or less harmful.” Andrew Lindsay discusses how police encroach on Black spaces, even online.
They made it look easy. After a shaky first few minutes, Kevin Durant took over and the hoopsters stomped Serbia, 96-66, to claim America’s third consecutive Olympic gold yesterday, with Coach Mike Krzyzewski finishing his 76-0 national team run. Team USA as a whole was just as dominant, wrapping up with 46 golds among 121 medals — far outpacing Britain’s 27 golds and China’s total of 70. Rio staged a boisterous party of a closing ceremony, handing the torch to Tokyo, which will host the Games in 2020.
Forget horse races. Why not bet on the commercial space race, album drops and other events? A series of new “prediction” markets allows just that, potentially tapping into a $250 billion U.S. gambling market. These betting entrepreneurs are using play currency to get started, but odds are they’ll eventually facilitate cash wagers. Sites like Augur, Hivemind and Gnosis are built to handle cryptocurrency like Bitcoin — and preserve the anonymity needed to avoid pesky regulatory attention. But secrecy could be the project’s downfall, as outsiders worry about insider trading.
Get ready to nerd out. Under a three-year-old Obama administration directive, NASA brought down its paywall this weekend and released 850 articles of its research — the number eventually will rise to the thousands — on a new portal called Pubspace. While national security- and patent-related research will still be restricted, the scientific-minded among us now can peruse space agency treatises on lunar dust toxicity and Earth’s early atmosphere as NASA prepares to launch a seven-year asteroid sampling mission from Cape Canaveral.
Will Europe’s refugees fit in? That’s the question urban planners are tackling in major German cities. Last year, the nation welcomed more than 1.1 million refugees and asylum seekers. While the country has seen waves of immigration from Turkey and elsewhere in recent history, the suddenness of the latest influx is forcing the country to rethink its planning, spurring prizewinning immigrant-focused social projects in Hamburg and Berlin that try to balance integration with familiar surroundings. But since wealthy Hamburgers protested cutting trees for immigrant housing, the city’s also asking the public to propose solutions.
Bye, bye, bye. The controversial grand master of boy bands has died at 62. Lou Pearlman, who created *NSYNC and other major 1990s acts, was serving a 25-year prison sentence for his role in a Ponzi scheme. Pearlman launched the Backstreet Boys — who became the best-selling boy band of all time — in 1993 after a talent search in Orlando, and went on to spawn more successes. But his scandal-scarred career included allegations of sexual misconduct with young band members, and protégé Chris Kirkpatrick bid him “RIP” with “mixed emotions.”