This could swiftly go down in flames. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho yesterday claimed Pyongyang’s right to shoot down American planes, even in international airspace, saying that President Donald Trump’s tweeted taunt that North Korea’s leadership “won’t be around much longer” amounted to a formal declaration of war. The White House brushed off Ri’s interpretation as “absurd.” As tensions continue to mount, analysts fear that an errant tweet could touch off military confrontation. A U.N. spokesman warned, “Fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
Will he have wi-fi? A federal judge sentenced ex-congressman Anthony Weiner to 21 months in prison for sexting a North Carolina teenager. The New York Democrat wept when sentenced for swapping lewd images and messages — something he’d done before — with the victim, 15, who testified she’d targeted Weiner and earned $40,000 from media interviews. The crime, involving a laptop with emails to his now ex-wife, Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, revived the FBI server probe the candidate blames for her November loss. He must begin his term Nov. 6.
Strike while the nuclear rhetoric is hot. Japan’s prime minister has called a snap election, in what’s seen as a way to validate his hard-line military policies on North Korea in a time of ratcheting regional tension. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike had announced the formation of a new opposition political party just hours earlier, but with the vote now a year sooner than expected, Koike’s party will be hard-pressed to compete with the ruling Liberal Democratic party, which current polls suggest will garner about 44 percent of next month’s vote.
The list is getting longer. Yesterday, President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, set for Supreme Court review next month, expired. Now he’s issued a new one, which continues to restrict travelers from Yemen, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Syria, and adds Chad, North Korea, and some government officials from Venezuela to the list. The new ban, set to take effect Oct. 18, includes two countries that aren’t majority-Muslim — likely a bid to persuade judges that it isn’t religious discrimination — but defies previous court orders to make exceptions for family members.
They want her back. German voters have given the conservative chancellor another four years in power. But Merkel’s decision to welcome over a million refugees in 2015 helped anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) win 13 percent of the vote, becoming the first far-right nationalist party in Germany’s parliament since the Nazis. The ruling CDU won a disappointing 33 percent while losing their governing partner, the left-of-center Social Democrats, who got 21 percent. Merkel will need smaller parties to form a governing coalition, but she’s ruled out an AfD partnership.
He’s kicked something off. Friday, President Trump excoriated football players who’ve protested civil injustice by kneeling for the national anthem, suggesting in vulgar terms that NFL owners should fire them for peacefully demonstrating. Saturday, he withdrew the Golden State Warriors’ White House invitation. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called it “divisive,” while LeBron James called Trump a “bum.” Yesterday, dozens of players, coaches and owners knelt, linked arms or remained in locker rooms during the anthem, while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said free speech should stay “off the field.”
Know This: Today, Iraqi Kurds go to the polls to vote on seeking national independence. The GOP’s latest attempt at repealing Obamacare appears to be dead on arrival, with several Republican senators speaking out against it. And Australia has announced it’ll establish its own national space agency.
Remember This Number: $47,000. That’s how much a group of Portuguese schoolchildren aged 5-14 is trying to crowdfund in order to sue 47 European countries for putting their lives at risk by failing to tackle climate change.
Talk to Us: What would you like to know? Here at OZY, we’ve been compiling dossiers on every week’s biggest news issue — tell us what you’d like to find out all about this week by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe he has mail privilege. Despite 2016 campaign trail chants of “lock her up” over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, such accounts are also reportedly being used in the Trump White House — including by the president’s son-in-law. Jared Kushner’s private account, set up in December, has exchanged emails with other top administration officials, though he’s not been accused of sending or receiving classified information. The president himself is not known to use email, though aides reportedly sometimes print them out for him.
They’re hoping there’s still time to back up. After London refused to renew Uber’s license to operate, citing concerns over unreported sexual assaults on passengers and use of software to thwart regulatory checks, the company’s scrambling to get back into the good graces of a market that accounts for 5 percent of its global user base. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has taken to Twitter to ask for a meeting with regulators today, hoping to reverse the decision — but any concessions Uber makes could trigger similar demands from other cities.
There’s no SPF for this. The U.S., China, Russia and Elon Musk are dying to go to Mars, but there’s a hitch. Recent experiments suggest that cosmic rays — high-energy particles from black holes and exploding stars — may bombard space travelers with far more radiation than previously known. The particles don’t just cause cancer: They damage DNA so that mutated cells trigger nearby healthy cells to also mutate. While Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field protect us at home, space agencies hope advances in shielding might someday do the same for cosmic voyagers.
The boys are back. Some male techies are increasingly resisting attempts to diversify and end workplace sexism, inspired by fired Google engineer James Damore, who asserted that tech’s gender gap is grounded in biological differences. While most tech leaders reject the premise, Y Combinator founder Paul Graham has backed Damore, with both claiming that men are victimized by overzealous gender parity efforts. While women still make up just one quarter of the tech workforce, “male separatist” groups and Silicon Valley lawsuits claiming gender discrimination against men are on the rise.
Fashion’s always chasing rainbows. Scientists have developed fabrics, nail polish and even hair dyes that react to changes in temperature and airflow with the ability to shift color like a mood ring. Wearable tech, such as sensors and LEDs woven into clothes, can keep time with your heartbeat or glimmer when you take a breath. With thermochromic dyes, super-strong and highly conductive graphene and other revolutionary materials, tech-savvy designers are letting humans mimic color-changing animals — not for camouflage, but to stand out from the monochromatic crowd.