Crisis for Eurozone as Greece misses $1.7bn payment to IMF

Despite a last-minute appeal to its creditors for a two-year package of financial aid, Greece at midnight on Tuesday became the “the first developed economy to default on a loan with the International Monetary Fund,” Reuters reports.

* Follow developments on The Guardian’s live-blog here.

The other nations currently in IMF default are Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Greece on Tuesday set a record for the size of a missed payment ($1.7billion).

What happens now? And what are the prospects for the Eurozone and for Greece itself?

Kathy Gilsinan writes at The Atlantic’s live-blog that 

In the “slow exit” option, Greece’s creditors don’t demand their deposits back immediately, but if Greece fails to secure outside sources of financing as public bills such as pensions and state salaries come due, “Greece could substitute ‘IOU’s’ for euros in some of its payments,” per CNBC. In the short term, these would in effect become a parallel currency. As the Wall Street Journal explained, “Over time, euros would disappear from circulation because people would hoard them as a store of value—and people would spend the government IOUs. De facto, the drachma, whether or not it would so be called, would become the main means of exchange.”

But there’s also the “no exit” option, where the country just keeps the euro. Polls have indicated that this is what Greeks want to do, and it’s what Prime Minister Alex Tsipras promised to do. If, say, he manages to secure a post-default bailout deal in negotiations set for tomorrow—allowing it to pay its debts to the IMF a few hours, or a few days late—Greece stays in the Eurozone that much longer. But the course of negotiations so far doesn’t give much reason for hope.

Ahead of Sunday’s referendum, a Royal Bank of Scotland infographic runs through the options for the immediate future.

But, predictably, there are always those predicting jam tomorrow…

Meanwhile, an IndieGoGo fundraiser for the country went offline after being swamped with curious visitors. Gizmodo reports that before crashing it had raised “a shocking €407,715.”

***

* WORLD * The US and Cuba have agreed a deal to reopen embassies and re-establish diplomatic relations. Details of the move are set to be announced on Wednesday morning. Both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are expected to make statements. The Washington Post reports:

The White House must notify Congress 15 days before opening the embassy. After relations were severed in 1961, U.S. officials mothballed the six-story modernist embassy. U.S. officials returned to Havana in 1977 when the two countries opened “Interests Sections” under the auspices of the Swiss government. The American compound currently has about 50 U.S. staffers…

Even after the embassy is reopened, it would take congressional action to end the decades-long economic embargo of the island nation. Republicans controlling Congress have vowed to keep the embargo in place.

As the Twitter hashtag #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches gained traction, there were reports of a fire on Tuesday evening at a church in Greeleyville, South Carolina, the seventh at a black church in the south since the Charleston shooting.

The New York Times, meanwhile, reported that

Investigators have concluded that while the fire in Charlotte, and one two days earlier in Knoxville, Tenn., were certainly arson, they were probably acts of vandalism. Of the four structures at Briar Creek Baptist, only a youth activities building in the back of the complex burned, while the sanctuary was untouched.

***

* POLITICS * The State Department said on Tuesday night that a 9pm ET release of 3,000 pages of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails is “not an effort to minimize media coverage of the documents but the result of the complexity of preparing the records for public release,” according to Josh Gerstein at Politico.

* Follow live updates from The Guardian here:

A sample..

But mostly so far the only revelation seems to be that she can’t work a fax machine.

Meanwhile..

***

* BUSINESS * Apple Music launched, with a three-month free trial. Here’s ten things you need to know, via EW before downloading the app.

In slightly less good news for the tech giant, a US court ruled that Apple had conspired with publishers to fix the prices of electronic books. 

Nike co-founder Phil Knight said on Tuesday that he would step away from the sportswear company and that he had recommended chief executive Mark Parker replace him as chairman next year.

***

* MEDIA * More tough times ahead for the Beeb, it seems..

BBCgraun

(Tomorrow’s Papers Today/The Guardian)

***

* CULTURE *  Misty Copeland became the first black principal dancer in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theater. At a news conference, she said

“From the day that I met my manager, Gilda Squire, she asked me, ‘What do you want to do?’ ” she recalled. “And I said, besides continue dancing at A.B.T., I want to bring more people to ballet, I want to see more people that look like me on the stage, in the school, and in the audience — on the board. It’s just been one of my goals, and it’s been exciting to see some change happen.”

***

* SPORTS * The US Womens’ National Team will play in the World Cup final on Sunday after beating Germany 2-0.

The US will play either England or Japan, who meet in the other semi-final on Wednesday night.

Whoever Sunday’s teams are, Sepp Blatter won’t be there. So there’s that.

Advertisements

‘Telling it like it is,’ Christie expands GOP field

UPDATE 2PM ET 30 JUNE 2015

“It’s My Life – It’s Now Or Never..” 

To the strains of Jon Bon Jovi’s 2000 AOR anthem, the singer’s fellow New Jerseyan Chris Christie opened a press conference at his old high school in Livingston, NJ, where he became the 14th announced candidate in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary. The New York Times reports:

Relying on his biggest, and perhaps his last, remaining advantage in a field of better-financed and better-liked rivals – his personality – Mr. Christie portrayed himself as the only candidate in the Republican field who is forthright and forceful enough to run the country.

Given Donald Trump’s recent run-in with Neil Young over the soundtrack for Trump’s announcement, Bon Jovi later said that he had “absolutely” given permission to use his music, and that his “friendships were apolitical.”

At least Christie didn’t choose “Going Down in a Blaze of Glory.”

 

MIDNIGHT,  JUNE 29

An already bloated Republican Presidential field is set to grow still further on Tuesday, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – “dogged by scandals and a plummeting popularity in his own state” – officially launches his campaign, media coverage of which may likely exceed his showing in any meaningful voter poll.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger‘s Tom Moran writes in a column headed “After 14 years of watching Christie, a warning: he lies,” that “He is a remarkable talent with a silver tongue. But if you look closely, you can see that it is forked like a serpent’s.”

Jack Shafer writes at Politico:

Will Christie appeal to his angels or his devils? In an interview today with the Washington Post’s James Hohmann, Christie biographer Matt Katz says he never doubted that Christie would run—”Barring a criminal indictment”—because he believes too much in himself and his communications skills not to run. Such confidence, so rare outside of politics and the casino, is the manna that keeps the political system running. Such confidence is also the stuff that causes otherwise sensible politicians to pick unnecessary fights with the press. Christie doesn’t like the press and the press doesn’t like Christie’s imperious ways much, either. Only one combatant in this face-off can change the equation, and only one combatant has everything to lose by not changing it.

***

* WORLD * Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged the nation to vote against international creditors’ austerity demands in Sunday’s national referendum.

The Guardian reports that 

At the end of a day that saw sharp falls in share prices around the globe, Tsipras used a TV address to ask a public still stunned by the imposition of a €60 daily limit on bank withdrawals to back his resistance to a new round of tough tax increases and spending cuts demanded by the troika of the commission, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund.

Tsipras urged Greeks to vote no in the forthcoming referendum, saying the plebiscite would be a strong “negotiating tool” in talks with lenders.

***

* POLITICS * NBC said it was severing ties with GOP Presidential candidate and TV personality Donald Trump after his “recent derogatory comments” regarding immigrants. The Hill reports that the move follows reports that Univision, the country’s largest Spanish-language network, said it would not air the beauty pageants produced by Trump.

A big deal commercially, maybe, but perhaps no matter in the grand political scheme of things…

In South Carolina, Karen Tumulty at the Washington Post has a profile of  Paul Thurmond, Republican legislator and son of Strom, and his efforts to have the confederate battle flag removed from the state capitol.

“I am aware of my heritage, but my appreciation for the things my forebears accomplished to make my life better does not mean that I must believe that they always made the right decisions,” Thurmond said. “And for the life of me, I will never understand how anyone could fight a civil war based in part on the desire to continue the practice of slavery.”

***

* BUSINESS * As the second quarter draws to a close on Tuesday, Reuters reports that worldwide M&A deals “almost matched the record set in the second quarter of 2007.”

The second quarter of 2015, however, stands out for the number of mega deals that were clinched or attempted.

These include Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s (RDSa.L) $70 billion acquisition of British rival BG Group Plc (BG.L), cable operator Charter Communications Inc’s (CHTR.O) $78.7 billion merger with Time Warner Cable Inc (TWC.N), and chip maker Avago Technologies Ltd’s (AVGO.O) $37 billion acquisition of peer Broadcom Corporation (BRCM.O).

Such large deals drove M&A volumes globally in the second quarter of 2015 up by 34.6 percent year-on-year to $1.33 trillion as of June 26, shy of the record $1.41 trillion seen in the second quarter of 2007.

***

* MEDIA* Roy Greenslade finds that The Daily Telegraph‘s redesign, on the occasion of its 160th birthday, is “easy on the eye for modern readers.”

It’s an old-and-new combination that looks rather good, at first – and second – look. But the headline change is less striking than the introduction of a larger text size, which marks a truly radical change in the paper’s appearance.

Meanwhile, The Guardian flashes back to 29 June 1970 and a report by an academic, one James Curran of Trinity College, Cambridge, that prognostications of newspaper ‘doom’ may be unfounded.

“There is nothing to justify the pessimism among journalists induced by the economic insecurity of the press industry and steadily falling newspaper sales. Nor is there a shred of evidence to support Professor [Marshall] McLuhan’s sweeping assertion that television viewing, by changing our sensory equipment, has eroded the need for the printed word.”

(Disclaimer – Goldsmith College’s Prof James Curran was one of the doctoral supervisors for my own (unfinished) PhD work on user-generated content.)

***

* CULTURE * E.L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, held a Twitter Q&A on Monday, and as The Independent reports, it didn’t go “exactly as planned.”

Finally, the end of June will come one second later than expected at midnight on Tuesday, with a “leap second” added to the official global clock for the first time in three years.

Use it wisely.

Greece shuts banks as financial meltdown looms

Banks and the stock exchange in Greece will be closed on Monday and possibly for the next six days until a planned national referendum, as the government in Athens tries to “check the growing strains on its crippled financial system,” Reuters reports.

Asian markets slid early on Monday amid fears of broader harm to the Eurozone and the global financial system should the country fail to meet its due loan payment to the IMF on Tuesday.

The Washington Post reports:

Sunday’s decision to declare a bank holiday was a signal that Greece’s five-year battle to stay in the shared euro currency may swiftly be coming to an end. ATMs in Athens were running out of money, and tensions were running high as Greeks stood in line for hours to scrape together cash for basic supplies. Lines mounted at gas stations as worried residents topped off their tanks for what could be a period of time in a cashless nation.

The Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made a national televised address and sought to reassure audiences at home and abroad.

(Greek with English subtitles)

***

* WORLD *  Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s Governor said that the island was unable to pay its roughly $72bn in debts. The New York Times called the revelation “startling” and said

The governor, Alejandro García Padilla, and senior members of his staff said in an interview last week that they would probably seek significant concessions from as many as all of the island’s creditors, which could include deferring some debt payments for as long as five years or extending the timetable for repayment.

Tuesday’s deadline for a deal in the Iran nuclear negotiations look likely to pass without agreement, with diplomats saying the negotiators would most likely “stay a few days beyond the deadline.” Reuters reported some western officials had suggested that Iran was “backtracking” from the initial agreement.

“It feels like we haven’t advanced on the technical issues and even gone back on some,” a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

The second escaped convict from the jailbreak three weeks ago in upstate New York was shot and recaptured on Sunday two miles from the Canadian border.

***

* POLITICS * New Jersey Gov Chris Christie released a campaign video and web site ahead of his expected announcement on Tuesday at his former high school that he is joining the GOP Presidential primary.

(“Telling it like it is” – Chris Christie)

Meanwhile, another day another Governor – Ohio’s John Kasich will apparently declare his candidacy on July 21.

Bree Newsome, the woman who scaled a flagpole at the South Carolina statehouse on Saturday and removed the confederate battle flag, raised over $100,000 in bail pledges and inspired some remarkable fan art over the past 24 hours. Here’s a few…

***

* BUSINESS * An unmanned SpaceX rocket exploded shortly after lifting-off from Cape Canaveral on a resupply mission for the International Space Station. Wired reports:

The multiple failed missions shouldn’t be a problem for the astronauts aboard the ISS; NASA confirmed that they have enough to live on for the next several months, and multiple launches will make it to the ISS before supplies run out. Another Progress craft is set to launch on July 3, a Japanese HTV flight is scheduled for August, and another commercial US outfit, Orbital ATK, has plans for a launch later this year.

But the loss of this cargo in particular is still a huge a blow to the ISS. On board the Dragon was a new docking station and a space suit that will take time to rebuild and replace.

(SpaceX – rocket launch is at 21:15 and anomaly occurs around 23:30)

***

* SPORTS * Apparently outgoing FIFA President Sepp Blatter was told to stop “flirting with power” after appearing to muddy the waters over his status in the past few days. But Blatter, who announced earlier this month that he would step down told a Swiss paper this weekend that he would leave, saying there had been “sponsor pressure” on him to go.

Wimbledon begins on Monday.

***

* MEDIA * So it seems the new final check on the veracity of a news story is whether something is real, or “just a bunch of dildos.”

***

* CULTURE * Chris Squire, bass player and one of the founding members of Yes, died aged 67 after a battle with leukemia. 

 

Finally… photoshopped? Yeah, probably, but so what…

 

Amazing Grace

In Charleston, South Carolina, President Obama delivered a remarkable, powerful, moving eulogy at the funeral of State Sen Clementa Pinckney, Pastor of the Mother Emanuel church, who was murdered alongside eight of his parishioners in last week’s shooting attack.

Addressing the need for change and the issues of racism and gun violence, the “Reverend President” said, in part:

Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on, to go back to business as usual. That’s what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society.

To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change, that’s how we lose our way again. It would be a refutation of the forgiveness expressed by those families if we merely slipped into old habits whereby those who disagree with us are not merely wrong, but bad; where we shout instead of listen; where we barricade ourselves behind preconceived notions or well-practiced cynicism.

Reverend Pinckney once said, “Across the south, we have a deep appreciation of history. We haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.”

What is true in the south is true for America. Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other; that my liberty depends on you being free, too.

That — that history can’t be a sword to justify injustice or a shield against progress. It must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, how to break the cycle, a roadway toward a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind. But more importantly, an open heart.

A full transcript of the President’s address is here, via CQ RollCall.

post and courier

(Post and Courier)

***

* WORLD * 

(Friday was a remarkable news day. It was the first time I’d published three full Notes on the same day. Click on these subheads to see the separate posts from earlier on Friday)

Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states

nytimes

In one of its most socially significant decisions in recent years, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of a national right to same-sex marriage. 

 

Dozens killed in series of global terror attacks

At least 39 people – including British and German tourists – were killed in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse when gunmen opened fire on the beach adjoining a luxury hotel, the Tunisian interior ministry said. A further 36 people were wounded. Islamic State said it was behind the attack.

Elsewhere,  ISIS claimed responsibility for what is thought to be a suicide bombing at a Shiite muslim mosque in Kuwait City which killed 25 people. The BBC reports that a further 200 people were wounded. While in south-eastern France, one man was decapitated in an attack at an American-owned factory near Grenoble. A suspect is in custody and other arrests have been made, as the country’s security apparatus was put on high alert.

terror(Tomorrow’s Papers Today)

 

One of two escaped convicts from a correctional facility in upstate New York was reportedly shot and killed by a federal agent near the Canadian border, about 40 miles from the prison. Law enforcement and border patrol officers are still in search of the second man. The pair have been on the run for three weeks.

 

Greece appears set to hold a national referendum on July 5 after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras rejected bailout extension proposals, calling the plan a “humiliation” and condemning “unbearable” austerity measures demanded by creditors, the BBC reports.

But Bloomberg reports that if Athens misses its Tuesday deadline for payment to the IMF, “it might be worse for the lender than for Greece.”

There’s a difference between missing a payment to bond investors, and to an official institution such as the IMF. Under the fund’s policy, countries that miss payments are deemed to be in “arrears.” The Washington-based lender plans to stick to that language, rather than using the term “default,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said Thursday.

The three major credit-rating companies have also said failure to pay the IMF wouldn’t constitute a formal default.

 

Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states

In one of its most socially significant decisions in recent years, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of a national right to same-sex marriage. 

The full opinion is here.

Live updates from Reuters on reaction to the decision are here.

Live updates from the New York Times are here.

Here is the key paragraph from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion.

supremecourt

According to SCOTUSblog, all four dissenters – including Chief Justice John Roberts – authored dissents.

But it was Justice Antonin Scalia, at once apparently both apoplectic and resigned, who provided the most quote-worthy material.

theonion

Political reaction among opponents of same-sex marriage was, well, as you might expect.

hucakbee

rubio

Zoe Carpenter writes at The Nation on how the right’s next tactic in their fight against gay marriage will likely be “religious liberty.”

Among the field of Republican presidential candidates the responses ranged from outrage to resignation; none embraced the ruling. Some were quick to throw red meat to the conservative base, ignoring yet another thing the GOP supposedly learned after getting crushed in 2012. But a few of the more serious candidates, who have read the polls and know aggressive opposition to gay marriage spells trouble in a general election, tried to shift the focus to one of the next issues in the marriage debate, which Nan Hunter explores in detail here—the attempt to frame discrimination as the exercise of “religious liberty.”

Andrew Sullivan, a longtime advocate of marriage equality wrote, simply, “It Is Accomplished”.

But some things you know deep in your heart: that all human beings are made in the image of God; that their loves and lives are equally precious; that the pursuit of happiness promised in the Declaration of Independence has no meaning if it does not include the right to marry the person you love; and has no force if it denies that fundamental human freedom to a portion of its citizens.

Dozens killed in series of global terror attacks

At least 37 people – including British and German tourists – were killed in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse when gunmen opened fire on the beach adjoining a luxury hotel, the Tunisian interior ministry said. A further 36 people were wounded.

* Live updates from The Guardian – including video from the scene – are here.

* Live updates from the BBC – including eyewitness Tweets – are here.

Al Jazeera reports on how the Tunisian town of Sousse, where todays attacks happened, is the “seaside home of ‘jihadist’ volunteers.’

The Sousse volunteers, a majority of whom are between 20 and 30 years of age, tend to come from the city’s working class districts, areas known not only for their poverty, but for their educational deprivation, social marginalisation but most importantly, lack of any religious education institutions.

In Kuwait, ISIS claimed responsibility for what is thought to be a suicide bombing at a Shiite muslim mosque in Kuwait City which killed 25 people. The BBC reports that a further 200 people were wounded.

In south-eastern France, one man was decapitated in an attack at an American-owned factory near Grenoble. A suspect is in custody and other arrests have been made, as the country’s security apparatus was put on high alert.

The New York Times writes:

There was no immediate indication that the attacks were coordinated. But the three strikes came at roughly the same time, and just days after the Islamic State, the militant group also known as ISIS or ISIL, called for such operations during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“It appears to be an effort to launch and inspire a wave of attacks across three continents, reminiscent of Al Qaeda’s simultaneous multiple attacks of the past,” said Bruce O Riedel, a former C.I.A. officer who is a counterterrorism expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Friday’s attacks follow an upsurge of violence in the Middle East on Thursday, including a string of attacks in Iraq attributed to ISIS.

And in Syria, Reuters reports that 

Islamic State fighters killed at least 145 civilians in an attack on the Syrian town of Kobani and a nearby village, in what a monitoring group described on Friday as one of the worst massacres carried out by the hardline group in Syria.

 

 

All eyes still on the Supreme Court

After Thursday’s 6-3 decision rejecting a legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act (see below) the Supreme Court could on Friday hand down another eagerly-awaited and politically significant decision, if it rules in Obergefell v Hodges et al, on same-sex marriage.

* As always, you can follow the SCOTUSblog live-blog here. And you really should follow @SCOTUSblog on Twitter.

 

UPDATE – NOON ET, 25 JUNE 2015

Supreme Court upholds key Obamacare provision

(The White House – President’s statement begins at 28.48)

The US Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a critical part of the Affordable Care Act, affirming that subsidies to around 6.4 million people, allowing them to purchase healthcare plans, can continue.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in the 6-3 decision in King v Burwell, writes – in what Slate said “will go down as a lasting statement about judicial humility”  –

roberts

* The complete text of the ruling is here, via The Hill.

Follow SCOTUSblog’s live-blog of today’s opinions here.

Not everyone was celebrating, of course.

In a closer decision (5-4) the Court also handed down an important civil rights decision on Thursday, upholding the law on housing discrimination, saying that it need not be intentional to be declared illegal.

***

* WORLD * South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney will be laid to rest in Charleston on Friday. His funeral will be attended by President Obama, who will deliver the eulogy. The First Lady, Vice-President Biden and Hillary Clinton are also set to attend the ceremony, at the College of Charleston.

* Follow the Charleston Post and Courier on Twitter here.

The first funerals for victims of last week’s shooting were held on Thursday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is in Vienna as the nuclear talks with Iran approach their crucial final stage, but it appears that Tehran’s top negotiator will not be at the table.

The formal deadline for an agreement is next Tuesday, but the sides have indicated they are prepared to extend if a deal is close.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Obama on Thursday to talk about the Iran deal and the ongoing war in Syria. The New York Times reports that it was the first direct contact between the two leaders for four months.

Mr. Putin’s decision to call Mr. Obama and focus on Syria and Iran may reflect a desire to assert his continuing importance on the world stage despite Russia’s isolation and failure to break the Western consensus on [Ukraine] sanctions.

Meanwhile, a senior Pentagon official told the House Armed Services Committee that Russia’s recent nuclear saber-rattling is “playing with fire”. Reuters reports:

The United States is about to embark on a costly long-term effort to modernize its aging nuclear force, including weapons, submarines, bombers and ballistic missiles. Estimates of the cost have ranged from $355 billion over a decade to about $1 trillion over 30 years.

The situation in Greece remains deadlocked with no deal between Athens and its creditors, and talks set to resume on Saturday, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel warning that it was currently not possible to find fresh funds beyond what is left in the bailout program.

***

* POLITICS * The Iran negotiations are the subject of the first significant “issue ad” of the campaign cycle by a group supporting Florida Sen Marco Rubio. Paul Blumenthal at Huffington Post reports:

The ad from the Conservative Solutions Project, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that is not required to disclose its donors, says the Obama administration is pursuing a “bad deal” with Iran. The video features clips of both Rubio and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denouncing the international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The group asks viewers to call their senators and to “join Rubio” in opposing the deal, which is supposed to be negotiated by June 30.

The potential deal was also a target for the GOP “front-runner”.

But the man who is currently running right behind Bush in the latest GOP poll apparently has a different focus, after Hispanic TV network Univision said it would drop the Miss USA pageant after his recent comments about Mexican immigrants.

Unsurprisingly, he barely broke stride.

And in case you might have forgotten who’s actually running (and who might be just thinking about it), here’s the complete listing from the CNN/WMUR New Hampshire poll, showing the little-known Senator Undecided clearly the people’s choice.

poll

After launching his campaign by awkwardly putting his children on hidden camera, Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal – he of the asterisk above – had an interesting first day as an official candidate, prompting a hashtag in India and being called out by Buckwheat Zydeco.

***

* BUSINESS/PHILANTHROPY * The Financial Times reports that Bill Gates is to “double his personal investment in green technologies” to $2bn over the next five years to “bend the curve” on climate change.

FTgates

Gates’s move comes after Napster co-founder and Silicon Valley investor Sean Parker announced that his foundation was allocating $600million to “help solve the world’s biggest problems.” Huffington Post reports:

The foundation will focus on three core areas where Parker thinks real progress can be made: civic engagement, global public health and life sciences. When the foundation identifies a program that shows promise in one of these areas, rather than waiting for a grant application to roll in, it will dive right in and spend big on that program.

Finally, Courtney Love got caught up in a pretty nasty French taxi drivers’ protest over UberPOP. The French interior minister later declared the car-sharing service illegal. Thankfully she got out ok.