The world’s not holding its breath. President Donald Trump has announced that the U.S. will pull out of the Paris climate agreement. He said the agreement “punishes the United States” is “unfair” and puts no “meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.” Trump also announced several new coal mines will be opening in the U.S. in two weeks. Meanwhile, the EU and China have announced an alliance to fight carbon emissions, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted that Trump may not understand the lengthy mechanics of withdrawal, which could take three or four years.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It was a heist gone wrong. While some initially described the attack on Resorts World Manila’s hotel casino as terrorism, Philippine police now believe it was a botched robbery after recovering $2.3 million in stolen chips. A lone gunman fired warning shots before setting fire to gaming tables. Of the 36 dead, most suffocated on the thick smoke, while 54 were injured in the panicked rush to escape. Though the gunman self-immolated in a hotel room shortly afterward, police say they’re seeking a second person for questioning.
They’re keeping quiet. The administration is refusing to answer any more questions about investigations into Russian election interference, telling reporters to contact President Trump’s outside counsel. The president took to Twitter, complaining that Congress doesn’t want his former aide Carter Page to testify in the probe because “he blows away their case,” though Congress has already requested information from Page, along with several other former aides. Meanwhile, James Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, his first public statement since he was fired as FBI director.
The violence never stopped. Though Afghanistan’s crisis has faded from Western headlines, a recent spate of attacks targeting Kabul — including yesterday’s bombing that killed 90 people and wounded at least 400 — threatens the government’s hopes for stability and safety. With millions of people living in areas controlled by the Taliban, many believed Kabul to be a comparatively safe zone. Now Germany, which had recently been pushing to repatriate Afghan asylum-seekers, has canceled scheduled deportations as many question if any region of Afghanistan can be considered safe.
Something’s rotten here. Brazil’s central bank slashed its interest rate by 1 percent as a political crisis once again threatens the country’s economy. J&F Investimentos, holding company of the world’s largest meat-packer, has agreed to pay a record-breaking $3.2 billion in exchange for leniency over its role in a massive corruption scandal. Its owners, Joesley and Wesley Batista, admitted to paying around $150 million in bribes to nearly 1,900 politicians. Their testimony could topple embattled President Michel Temer, who’s ignoring calls for his resignation and denying all wrongdoing.
Know This: With a week to go before the U.K. general election, Prime Minister Theresa May’s lead has fallen to just 3 percent according to a recent poll. A would-be hijacker was tackled and tied up by passengers after he claimed to have explosives on a Malaysia Airlines flight from Melbourne. And a new book by Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien has gone on sale 100 years after it was written.
Explain This: “I think the president and a small group of people knew exactly what he meant.” So said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer when questioned about the president’s use of the word “covfefe” on Twitter — assumed to be a typo until Spicer’s cryptic statement indicated otherwise.
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It’ll have its moment in the sun. The Parker Solar Probe, named for the physicist who explained the existence of solar winds, will be NASA’s first mission to the sun’s atmosphere. It’ll get within 4 million miles of the star’s surface, withstanding scorching temperatures of 2550 degrees Fahrenheit. During its six-year mission, the probe will complete 24 increasingly close orbits while investigating solar winds, which affect Earth’s GPS and radio systems. The probe is set to launch late next summer, slightly ahead of a similar mission from the European Space Agency.
Say cheese. The budget airline will soon begin testing facial recognition check-in for flights from Boston to Aruba in a bid to eliminate boarding passes and streamline airport operations. A camera kiosk will scan passengers’ faces and compare them to passport or visa photos filed in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection database, though travelers will still need to carry passports. JetBlue, in collaboration with tech company SITA, purports to be the first airline to use biometric technology for boarding. Meanwhile, Delta is testing a similar system for baggage check.
You can’t judge a book by its coverage. A study of more than 16,500 New Zealanders found that consuming at least 15 hours of news per week correlated with a slight uptick in antipathy toward Arab Muslims, regardless of participants’ political leanings or the source of their news. New Zealand is a famously tolerant nation, but only about 1 percent Muslim. The study’s co-author observed that lack of exposure to other races and cultures means that readers may be forming their views based solely on news coverage.
It was a role born in scandal. In 2003, the paper created the public editor position as an “in-house watchdog” after the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal. Now publisher Arthur Sulzberger says the job is redundant in the age of internet commenters. Current public editor Liz Spayd will depart Friday. Instead, Sulzberger says The Times will open more articles to comments and connect with the public via a new “Reader Center.” He noted that social media users serve as a watchdog “more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be.”
“Hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day.” So said the NBA superstar after his offseason Los Angeles home was vandalized Wednesday morning with a racial slur. James, who has been outspoken about race and police violence, said the incident was a reminder that “being black in America is tough,” even for those with money, fame and power. Police are investigating the vandalism, while James and his Cleveland Cavaliers prepare to take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight.