With midterm elections looming, House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced he won’t run for re-election, though he’ll serve out the rest of his current term. That could potentially place Republican control of Congress in jeopardy, with prospects for keeping control of the House already dicey as the party’s seen several high-profile retirements and a surge of enthusiasm for Democratic candidates ahead of the vote in November. “I have accomplished much of what I came here to do,” said Ryan, who’s been House Speaker since 2015.
The Presidential Daily Brief
After Russia promised to shoot down U.S. missiles aimed at Syria, President Trump tweeted that missiles “will be coming.” He’d promised a “forceful response” over a chemical attack on Syrian civilians Saturday that claimed scores of lives and has been blamed on the Syrian government. Meanwhile, Russia and a Western coalition butted heads at the U.N. yesterday, vetoing each other’s proposals for investigating this and previous toxic chemical attacks on Syrian civilians. A coalition of the U.S., Britain and France has pledged to coordinate a response, even as Russian officials warned U.S. envoys against an “illegal military adventure.”
No official death toll has been released in the crash of a military plane today near Algiers, but media reports say at least 247 people have died, including at least 26 members of a group lobbying for Western Sahara’s independence from Morocco. The cause of the crash is still unclear. Another military plane crashed in Algeria four years ago, killing 77. Injured people are being transferred to medical facilities as the army says it will begin an investigation into the incident.
Contradicting federal regulations, the White House press secretary said Tuesday that President Donald Trump has been advised that he has the power to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with Russian meddling in the 2016 election. The president is reportedly also considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller. Rosenstein approved an FBI raid this week that seized documents from Trump’s personal lawyer’s office. They reportedly involved multiple payoffs to silence women about sexual encounters with the president, a matter unrelated to Mueller’s probe.
“We’ve seen the apology tours before,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, dismissing CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s mea culpas before a joint Senate committee over Facebook’s user data mishandling. Zuckerberg, who’s facing a bipartisan push for more regulation of social media companies, promised to do better in 2018 as lawmakers asked a series of often rudimentary questions about how Facebook works and how users can control their own data sharing. Markets seemed pleased with the testimony, as Facebook’s stock jumped 4.5 percent for the day. This morning, Zuckerberg faced questions from the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Chinese President Xi Jinping promised a “new phase of opening up” yesterday, speaking of cutting import tariffs and protecting intellectual property — and though he didn’t mention Trump, the White House took it as an olive branch, with an appreciative tweet from the president. Markets bounced at the sign of decreased trade tensions. Meanwhile, China’s central bank said it plans to expand foreign access to Chinese banking, investment and insurance sectors by the end of the year, as well as open a trading link between stock markets in Shanghai and London.
Know This: A German billionaire has gone missing in the Swiss Alps. A conservative TV host has resigned after tweeting that he would use a “hot poker” to sexually assault one of the teen survivors of the Parkland school shooting. And Russia’s notoriously boisterous soccer hooligans are facing official pressure to tone down their behavior in advance of the World Cup.
Read This: Symphony of the Seas, the largest cruise ship ever built, is five times the size of the Titanic. Here’s the story of how it came to be.
Love OZY? OZY has been nominated for a Webby Award — and you could help us win! Cast your vote for the hit inspirational video series “Life, Interrupted” today at wbby.co/soc-vidlife.
A team of researchers will follow in the wake of explorer Ernest Shackleton to find his ship, the Endurance, which sank in the Weddell Sea in 1915. Its expedition aimed to cross Antarctica before becoming trapped in ice, which after 10 months crushed the ship. The party escaped to uninhabited Elephant Island, and Shackleton sailed off in a lifeboat, returning for his crew in 1916. The modern expedition, starting next year, will be the first to use robot subs to seek the vessel — which the explorer’s family still owns.
Providing the electric car company with around $2 billion in sales last year, China is Tesla’s second-largest market — but Elon Musk’s company is in for a bumpy ride. A faulty power steering component means Tesla must recall 9,000 Model S cars in China, part of a worldwide recall of 123,000 vehicles. And there’s worse down the road: The nascent trade war between Beijing and Washington could see Chinese customers facing a 50-percent tariff on the company’s cars, as well as stall talks for a Tesla manufacturing hub in Shanghai.
One man’s trash is another man’s cause. Engineers, architects and universities in Lebanon are pitching in to solve their country’s heaping waste management problem, which made world headlines in 2015 after a shuttered sanitation plant left the usually beautiful streets of Beirut cluttered in garbage. Now across a spectrum of society — from rural villages to university campuses — new recycling and education initiatives are taking root with innovations such as compressing trash into building material. Meanwhile, others are keeping up pressure on the government to continue searching for more sustainable solutions.
Old hobbits die hard. Nearly 45 years after the author’s death, fans will get another book set in the world of The Lord of the Rings. Edited by the author’s son, The Fall of Gondolin was described as the “Holy Grail of Tolkien texts” by the Tolkien Society. The author had referred to his unfinished work, later compiled in a Middle Earth chronicle called The Silmarillion, as “the first real story of this imaginary world.” The 304-page novel about the rise and fall of an elven kingdom will be released August 30.
It’s a whole new ball game. Last fall, the MLB team was sold for $1.2 billion, and Miami-Dade County, which owns Marlins Park, is suing for its share of the profits. After a judge ruled against the team, the new owners, led by retired Yankees superstar Derek Jeter, now say a federal arbitrator must decide the case as Jeter’s group is based in the British Virgin Islands. The county’s not having it, and neither are fans, who brought attendance at Monday’s game to a record low.