The White House issued new federal guidance yesterday encouraging universities and public schools to ignore race in their admissions process, a rejection of Obama-era policies aimed at promoting diversity — which critics said overstepped Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action. The Education Department has reverted to policies from George W. Bush’s presidency. Meanwhile, a battle is brewing as a discrimination case brought against Harvard by Asian-American students may be headed to the Supreme Court just as President Donald Trump picks a nominee to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Chief Justice Malgorzata Gersdorf, 65, says she won’t resign despite a controversial law from Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party mandating early retirement. The law, which lowers the retirement age by five years, is expected to force out 40 percent of the Supreme Court. Gersdorf was ordered to step down by midnight yesterday, despite the EU’s legal action Monday to block the law, while thousands of people demonstrated against what’s seen as a threat to judicial independence. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended the law as a step toward “democratic enlightenment.”
Two months after being voted out of office amid an ongoing corruption scandal, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been charged with one count of abuse of power and three counts of criminal breach of trust. He’s accused of embezzling at least $700 million from 1MDB, the national development fund he set up in 2009. His ouster also set up the first election victory for the Malaysian opposition since independence in 1957. Najib has pleaded not guilty and faces up to 20 years in prison for each charge.
Yi Gang, governor of the People’s Bank of China, has said he’ll keep the yuan’s exchange rate stable despite market fluctuations — which calmed markets and brought the yuan up 0.7 percent against the dollar. The currency had fallen to its lowest point in months yesterday. Meanwhile, European officials said China is pressuring them to align against President Trump’s trade policies at a Beijing summit July 16. That alliance could include joint action via the World Trade Organization — though European countries noted they have issues with China’s trade policies as well.
Know This: The young Thai football team found in a cave after 10 days missing is now practicing diving with rescuers in hopes of escaping the cave before the end of monsoon season. The pro-Brexit Vote Leave campaign is expected to be found guilty of multiple charges of breaking electoral law today, which would come with fines. The CEO of LaCroix sparkling water has been accused of inappropriately touching two company pilots. And today, OZY’s Around the World campaign takes you to the United States, where Tennessee’s best barbecue is served in … a converted gas station?
Read This: A South Carolina police union has objected to a summer reading list for high school students that includes two books that deal with themes of police brutality — which has some questioning why teen reading material is a police matter.
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The most popular response describing America was “divided” in a recent poll of 4,731 adults. In the Trump era that may not be as surprising as one of the poll’s more unexpected findings: Only 61 percent of Americans consider serving in the military to be patriotic. That comes considerably behind the most unifying answer, voting, which 77 percent of respondents found patriotic — though voter turnout in 2016 was only 56 percent. Meanwhile, just a quarter of millennials say they’re prouder to be American now than they were five years ago.
The state-owned Katara Hospitality fund, which also owns the Savoy Hotel in London, has agreed to pay $600 million for the Midtown Manhattan property. Once owned by President Trump, the iconic hotel is the latest luxury asset that’s caught the oil-rich Gulf state’s attention in its drive to snap up pricey foreign real estate and chunks of Western companies. The deal is also Qatar’s largest property investment since its Gulf neighbors implemented an economic blockade on the country last year over its alleged support for terrorism.
The truth is out there. The peculiar properties of our solar system’s seventh planet have long puzzled astronomers, but a new study contends Uranus received its sideways axis, warped magnetic field and icy atmosphere from a powerful impact 4 billion years ago by an object at least twice the mass of Earth. While scientists have been simulating collision scenarios since the 1990s, this effort included the latest data on the planet’s composition. Researchers hope to examine Uranus’ interior, but for now their observations may also shed light on exoplanets.
British police are investigating three new claims of sexual assault against the House of Cards actor, adding to three already under Scotland Yard’s consideration. London’s Old Vic Theatre, where Spacey served as creative director until 2015, opened a confidential hotline for those wanting to report abuse after fellow actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of assaulting him as a teen. In November, the theater said it had received more than 20 complaints and advised 12 be brought to police. Spacey is also under investigation in Connecticut and California for alleged sexual misconduct.
Keep calm and carry on. The Three Lions are headed to the quarterfinals after beating Colombia 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday, breaking a streak stretching back to the 1996 European Championship semifinals, when current head coach Gareth Southgate missed his penalty kick. England went on to be eliminated from five major tournaments, including three World Cups, on shootouts. But a save by goalie Jordan Pickford and a winning shot from Eric Dier broke the curse. England, who last won the tournament in 1966, faces Sweden Saturday.