European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for a summit to discuss the continent’s worsening migrant crisis, with Reuters reporting how domestic border concerns within the region are heightening tensions.
“Migration … is a transformative challenge,” one senior EU diplomat said, noting the strain it was putting on unity among neighbors where years of economic drift have bolstered anti-immigration parties, even as turmoil to the south has driven growing numbers to risk perilous crossings of the Mediterranean.
The summit will also focus on the economic situation in Greece, where – following an emergency summit earlier in the week – talks between the Athens government and its creditors broke up without agreement in the early hours of Thursday.
In all, it is likely that these two issues will squeeze out plans by British Prime Minister David Cameron to begin to garner support for a “better deal” for Britain ahead of a referendum on membership promised for 2017. The Independent writes that
EU diplomats predicted that France would prove a major stumbling block to the Prime Minister’s demands and would not join Germany in “going the extra mile” to keep Britain in the 28-member EU club.
* WORLD * At the US Supreme Court, six major decisions remain on the docket, with decisions set for Thursday and Friday, as well as likely also next week. The most politically significant rulings still to be issued are those concerning same-sex marriage (Obergefell v Hodges et al) and the Affordable Care Act (King v Burwell).
* Follow SCOTUSblog’s live-blog of opinions here, beginning at 9AM ET (decisions expected from 10AM)
In a court in Boston on Wednesday, marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev was formally sentenced to death. Following three hours of emotional statements by witnesses and victims, Tsarnaev spoke his first words in court.
Funerals for the victims of last week’s Charleston shooting begin on Thursday, with local officials preparing to take steps to prevent any potential protests. The Wall Street Journal writes:
The largest [service] will be for Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a state senator, at an arena Friday where more than 5,000 people are expected to attend and President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a eulogy.
On Wednesday, Rev. Pinckney’s coffin lay in the statehouse in Columbia, a line of people waiting to pay their respects stretching for more than a block in sweltering heat.
The New York Times reported that federal hate crime charges are likely to be brought against the alleged shooter.
* POLITICS *
Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal became the 13th candidate in an increasingly-crowded GOP field when he declared he was seeking the Presidency. In what NPR called an “awkward start” to his campaign, Mr Jindal made his announcement by “putting his kids on hidden camera.”
Jindal, who is Indian-American, is making his pitch in particular to the party’s evangelical wing. The New York Times reports:
In his speech, Mr Jindal, who was raised as a Hindu but converted to Roman Catholicism, made a forceful appeal to Christian conservatives, accusing liberals of putting Christianity “under assault.” Before he took the stage, a pastor led the audience in a prayer asking God to fill Mr. Jindal “with the purposes and the plans that you have.”
“I know that some believe I talk too much about my faith, but I will not be silenced,” Mr. Jindal told supporters. “I will not be silenced in order to meet their expectations of political correctness. They don’t seem to accept the idea that you can be both intellectual and Christian.”
The GOP field is expected to grow still further next week, with New Jersey Gov Chris Christie apparently poised to make an announcement. In the latest national poll, Jindal scored around just 1 per cent, but his score among “candidates you could not see yourself voting for” was just 28 per cent, far lower than Christie’s 55 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Director of the University of New Hampshire’s survey center says “everyone should just calm down” after Donald Trump’s second-place showing in the latest New Hampshire GOP primary poll.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton can likely expect plenty of questions – not least from Sen Bernie Sanders – in the wake of Wednesday’s passage of the trade deal facilitating the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
Talking of Sen Sanders, it appears that his campaign event in Denver at the weekend saw the biggest turn-out of any candidate so far in this cycle – bigger even than Hillary’s recent “relaunch” event in New York.
“Ten minutes after the email went out, we knew we had to change the venue,” said Sanders.
Take a look…
Congressional Democrats introduced a bill aimed at restoring the Voting Rights Act, gutted by the Supreme Court two years ago. The Act will mark its 50th anniversary this summer.
President Obama on Wednesday found himself being heckled at a White House event touting the administration’s progress in pressing for equal rights for the LGBT community. The heckler, protesting about immigration policy, was removed after the President tried a couple of attempts at civil interaction.
“As a general rule, I am just fine with a few hecklers,” Obama said. “But not when I am up in the house. My attitude is if you’re eating the hors d’oeuvres, you know what I’m saying? And drinking the booze? I know that’s right.”
* MEDIA * Fox News finally parted company with former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The former Governor of Alaska will likely still be seen on TV in shows like her Sarah Palin’s Alaska, which debuted in 2010. The Hollywood Reporter says that the producer of that show, Mark Burnett, (also responsible for Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice) “has his eye on a series that would go inside the world of global government leaders. First on his wish list: Russia’s Vladimir Putin. If all goes as he hopes, others, including Cuba’s Fidel Castro, would follow.”
The startup mobile news application Circa is closing, after it ran out of money. Mathew Ingram writes at Fortune:
For me, one of the most innovative things about the service was that Circa knew how much of a story each of its users had seen—which updates were clicked on and which weren’t—and so it could send new information only to those who hadn’t already seen it.
From a purely technical point of view, this was a huge improvement over the way that many mainstream media outlets go about their business: In most cases, when there is a breaking news story, they pump out a huge amount of old information that many readers have already seen, because they have no idea who has seen it and who hasn’t. It’s a massive duplication of effort, and a waste of resources.
Unfortunately, those aspects of Circa always seemed more like useful features of some other, larger service than a standalone business.
Finally, congratulations to the Virginia Cavaliers, who beat defending champions Vanderbilt to win the deciding game in the College World Series.