President Trump tweeted today that he’s accepted the resignation of Pruitt, whose list of controversial moves includes allegedly using government funds to purchase a $43,000 telephone booth, enlisting an official aide to help his wife get permission to open a Chick-fil-A restaurant, and sidelining EPA personnel who defied him. The former Oklahoma attorney general was the subject of 13 federal investigations. Pruitt may now have to reconsider his ambitions, which were rumored to include state office in Oklahoma and an eventual presidential run.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Investigators say the chemical that left two people critically ill in Wiltshire is the same military-grade poison used against ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. The civilians, who reportedly have “nothing in their background” to suggest they were targeted, live eight miles from Skripal’s home, where the nerve agent was rubbed on his front door in March. Police haven’t determined if it’s from the same batch. Some experts believe the two may have stumbled across remnants of the poison outside the clean-up area in Salisbury.
Faced with a coming monsoon, international rescue workers are scrambling to drain the flooded cave in northern Thailand where 12 young soccer players and their coach have been trapped for almost two weeks. “What we worry [about] most is the weather,” one official said. Rescuers hope the boys will be able to walk the 2.5 miles — more than a third of which has been drained by hundreds of industrial pumps — before heavy rains this weekend. Thai navy SEALs have been training the boys with diving equipment in case the waters rise.
So much for “fire and fury.” After President Donald Trump’s historic summit with Kim Jong Un last month — and ahead of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang tomorrow — the White House has dialed back its hostile rhetoric. “Many good conversations with North Korea,” Trump tweeted. Pompeo is tasked with transforming the summit’s enthusiasm into concrete policy to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, though officials note there’s little sign of a breakthrough. Intelligence reports indicate that Pyongyang continues to produce nuclear fuel and build test sites.
The long-brewing trade war between Beijing and Washington escalated further on Thursday as China’s Commerce Ministry accused the U.S. of “opening fire on the entire world.” New U.S. tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods — more than half of which China says are made by foreign firms — are set to take effect tomorrow. That prospect has prompted officials in Beijing to promise retaliatory action. Meanwhile, Chinese state media are preparing for potential containment. “Chinese people have unfaltering confidence in China’s future,” read an editorial in the Global Times.
Know This: Liberal Democrats are hoping to derail President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination through advertising and grassroots activism targeting two moderate Republican senators. Chinese social media users are debating whether Russian women kissing a male South Korean reporter on air constitutes sexual harassment. A heat wave throughout the Northern Hemisphere is breaking records across several continents. And today OZY’s Around the World campaign takes you to Laos, where a new wave of young directors dares to dream big.
Listen to This: American identity, with all its trappings, is constantly in flux. But which factors are most instrumental in shaping it?
Talk to Us: This year, OZY is going Around the World on a year-long tour to visit every single country, and we’d love for you to get involved. Where in the world are you when you read OZY? Send us pictures — they might make it onto OZY.com — and tell us what rising stars, new trends, music and food we should be writing about. Or even pitch us a story! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They’re on the trawl. Canadian officials say that in the past two weeks, U.S. Border Patrol agents have stopped and questioned the crews of at least two Canadian fishing vessels operating in the disputed waters near Machias Seal Island. A spokesman for the fishermen says it’s happened at least 10 times. Located off the coast of Maine, the island and surrounding waters have been contested since the 18th century. While the interceptions appear to be regular exercises targeting illegal immigration, Canada’s foreign affairs department is reportedly investigating the matter.
They sure sewed ’em. Technology was once the enemy of textile weavers in Laos, flooding the country with cheap knockoffs that threatened their livelihoods. But now the community of mostly rural, female workers relies on the internet and a network of conscious consumers to create new economic opportunities — like introducing buyers to colorfully embroidered leg wraps repurposed as wine bags. These artisans have found a whole new market by putting modern spins on traditional creations, and local initiatives are ensuring that more profits go back to the weavers.
A new study in the journal Nature Communications reveals that men with higher levels of testosterone are more likely to spend on luxury goods perceived to be status symbols. Describing the primal nature of men trying to assert dominance, one co-author said, “Our weapons are what we wear, drive, and live in rather than claws, fists, and muscles.” The study involved 243 men between the ages of 18 and 55, half of which received a testosterone gel that apparently piqued their interest in the luxury brands presented to them.
The decision to cast the actress as real-life trans crime boss Dante “Tex” Gill in the mafia drama Rub & Tug has been panned for perceived insensitivity. Johansson was previously slammed for playing a character usually portrayed as Asian in Ghost in the Shell by the same director. “I wouldn’t be as upset if I was getting in the same rooms as Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett for cis roles,” tweeted transgender actress Trace Lysette. Johansson’s representative suggested critics be “directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.”
Nicknamed “Jaws,” Chestnut inhaled 74 hot dogs plus buns in just 10 minutes at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on New York’s Coney Island. The victory is Chestnut’s 11th in 12 years — and third in a row — and racked up a whopping 22,200 calories and 1,332 grams of fat. He won $10,000 for his effort. Meanwhile, Miki Sudo ate 37 hot dogs to win the women’s event for the fifth consecutive year, leading commentators to compare the two to sports dynasties like the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.