Obama kicks off Alaska trip with climate change warning

President Obama is making his first trip to Alaska, aiming to focus attention on climate change. Reuters reports:

Obama told a meeting of foreign ministers in Alaska that the United States recognized it played a big part in raising the Earth’s temperatures and “embraces our responsibility” to help fix the problem. “This year, in Paris, must be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got while we still can,” Obama said, according to his prepared remarks.

Obama’s visit, which runs until Wednesday, kicked off with some concocted controversy over the name of Alaska’s – and the nation’s – tallest peak.

Somewhat hilariously,  that annoyed Ohioans, ostentatiously sticking up for their state’s former President, along with, well, pretty much everyone who doesn’t like the current President.

Jennifer Steinhauer writes at the New York Times:

There are also a lot of Americans, all due respect both to the 49th state and to the birthplace of Cincinnati chili, who find this and the debate over whether Denali means the “great one” or “high one” subjects of minimal importance and are far more concerned about the pope’s coming visit to the United States.

Yet, joking aside, there was some considerable criticism of the President’s climate focus for his trip right after his decision to allow Shell to resume drilling in the Arctic.



The State Department released another batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails on Monday night, saying that 150 of the 7,000 documents were designated as containing classified information. More details tomorrow, I’m sure.

Wait, what? Gefilte fish?

The latest candidate rankings by The Hill shows how Donald Trump has “utterly transformed the race.” Even though a new poll in Iowa shows him in a tie for the lead with Ben Carson, Trump’s favorability is increasing.

Oh and, yeah, because some people would like that…



Amid heightened tensions and violent demonstrations in Ukraine, US and Nato forces began military exercises – named Sea Breeze – alongside the Ukrainian navy.

Chinese stocks are off again at Tuesday’s open.



Tuesday is transfer deadline day in the English Premier League – the window having already shut in other European leagues – and it’s off to an interesting start. After Manchester City’s  signing of Kevin de Bruyne from Wolfsburg yesterday, the red half of the city has swung into action.. ish.

mailspport(Daily Mail/Tomorrow’s Papers Today)



Malaysia’s PM defiant in face of protests

As Malaysia celebrates its Independence Day, Prime Minister Najib Razak has refused to resign and called for unity after a weekend of protests demanding he step down amid allegations of financial impropriety.



As Asian markets brace for another potentially difficult week, China announced it had punished a number of people for spreading “rumors” over recent events. Meanwhile, the FT reports that Beijing has apparently abandoned efforts to boost the stock market.

China’s leaders feel they mishandled the stock market rescue efforts by allowing too much information to become public, according to senior regulatory officials speaking at a meeting late on Thursday — an account of which has been seen by the Financial Times.

Instead, authorities are planning to sharpen their focus on investigating and punishing individuals and institutions they believe have taken advantage of the state bailout to make profits or have obstructed the government’s attempts to shore up the market.

European ministers will meet again in two weeks to address the continent’s unprecedented migration crisis.



You couldn’t make it up, I suppose. But given what passes for political reality these days, why not?



The Chicago Cubs’ Jake Arrieta pitched his first career-no-hitter as the Cubs beat the Dodgers in Los Angeles. It was the 14th no-no in franchise history and the win also leaves Arrieta as the leading pitcher in baseball this season, with 17 victories.

The US Open Tennis tournament starts on Monday in Flushing, New York. The women’s final match has sold out ahead of the mens’.



Two sad passings on Sunday, as we lost renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks and movie director Wes Craven.



This is the story of the Hurricane…

This weekend marks ten years since Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding devastated New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf coast.

(Gary Rivlin – Simon & Schuster)

(Compass Records)




The shock of yesterday’s mass deaths of refugees, both in Austria and off the coast of Libya, continues to resonate. Meanwhile the UN has warned of a ‘crisis of solidarity’ among EU governments and has urged a “collective political response.”



As this weekend’s DNC meeting kicks off in Minneapolis, front-runner Hillary Clinton’s focus is on locking up “super delegates” well in advance of the first actual vote being cast – both as a deterrent to any potential late entrants and to avoid a repeat of her unsuccessful 2008 campaign.

But her existing opponents are unhappy about the number of debates.


Europe’s migrant crisis continues to worsen

“Never before in history have so many people fled their homes to escape war, violence and persecution,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. “And given the large number of unresolved conflicts in our neighborhood, the stream of refugees seeking protection in Europe will not abate in the foreseeable future.”

Thursday was – yet another – very bad day for anyone trying to start a new life.

Even as EU leaders opened another summit in Vienna to discuss the worsening situation in the western Balkans that is having an impact across the continent, Alastair McDonald at Reuters explains how Europe’s failures may be prompting a new way forward.

The failure is evident. Of millions fleeing war, oppression and misery, hundreds of thousands have been desperate enough to brave the sea to reach Europe; thousands have died but their numbers still multiply despite a mostly stony welcome: razor wire, hunger, filth and hosts more intent on blaming each other than on their common duty to help.

That may be changing, although far from certainly and all too slowly for those cradling sick infants in open boats or fighting for air in a Balkan smuggler’s truck.

A reporter and photographer from the New York Times are documenting migrants’ efforts to reach Hungary.

Meanwhile there was some bad news for Britain’s Conservative government in new data showing net migration at a record high.

migrantsmail(Tomorrow’s Papers Today)



Police in the Chilean capital Santiago tackled separate protests on Thursday – by students over university funding and by truck drivers over protection on southern roads.

Which democratic society allows whoever happens to be temporarily in charge to appoint his friends as legislators? That would be Britain, the mother of parliaments.

Amid continuing sadness and anger over yesterday’s tragic on-air murder of two journalists in Virginia, there was renewed focus on gun control – or the lack thereof – as well as debate among the media about coverage of such an incident when social media is part of the killer’s strategy.

(BBC Newsnight)



President Obama delivered a speech in New Orleans to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

This was kind of a cheeky photo for the White House to release, though…

Former President Bush, who was in office – and in Air Force One – during the tragedy, will be visiting Gulfport, Mississippi on Friday. Although at least one Democrat thinks Bush “got it right” on disaster response.


What’s the first word comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton?

Here’s the full list for the Democratic front-runner.



The Shepherd’s Crown, the final book by British fantasy writer Sir Terry Pratchett was posthumously released on Thursday. The Discworld creator died in March.



Usain Bolt again beat Justin Gatlin at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing, this time in the 200 meters final.

Seems like the only thing that can bring him down these days is a cameraman on a Segway.




Just doing their jobs, their whole lives ahead of them

In a world where events too often defy description in their cruelty, I have simply nothing, through my tears, about this.





Markets coaster still rolling

A rally in US stocks evaporated at the end of Tuesday’s session, setting up another day of volatility ahead of Wednesday’s Asia open after a Chinese rate cut failed to settle nerves.



ISIS militants reportedly destroyed historic relics in the Syrian city of Palmyra.



Donald Trump’s lead in the GOP primary race grew in a new round of polls on Tuesday.

At a pre-rally press conference in Dubuque, Iowa, Trump had a run-in with Univision journalist Jorge Ramos, leading to Ramos being escorted out.

But in a subsequent un-Trump-like moment of self-awareness, the candidate seemed to realize he’d gone too far and allowed Ramos back into the room, where they had a lengthy exchange on immigration policy.

Interestingly, the Trump campaign announced some key hires in early primary states, including Sam Clovis, who had previously run Rick Perry’s campaign in Iowa. The Washington Post‘s Robert Costa had the scoop.

Trump’s spat with Fox News and its Chairman Roger Ailes over the network’s anchor Megyn Kelly appears to be back on.

And, since the guy “speaks his mind,” according to his supporters, occasionally something comes out that makes total sense. Ben Wofford writes at Politico:

As pundits search for the source of Trump’s resilient appeal, reformers say they’ve long known the answer: the constant emphasis on how his staggering wealth immunizes him from insider influence. It has arguably now become the campaign’s most salient theme. “I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money,” Trump scoffed at his campaign announcement in June. A month later, he told the Wall Street Journal, “When you give [contributions], they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” And primary voters seem spellbound. “The guys who want to give me a million – I said, forget it. Who cares?” Trump recently told a rapt audience. “All of the money that’s going to Hillary, and Jeb, and Scott and Marco? They’re totally controlled. Totally.”



Hold tight. Again.

Another day of financial turmoil has begun, with China stocks off more than 6 per cent at the open as world markets continue to grapple with the fallout from fears about the health of the world’s second-biggest economy.

John Cassidy writes:

Obviously, things could get worse. Whether they do or not depends on whether, in the next few days, the turmoil in the Chinese market continues and signs of financial distress emerge here at home—for example a big hedge fund or financial institution getting into trouble. Bull markets, such as the one Wall Street has enjoyed for the past six years, generate a great deal of risk-taking, which often involves using some hidden type of leverage to enhance returns. As Warren Buffett famously remarked, ”Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

Meanwhile, oil fell below $40 a barrel, its lowest level for six years.

FTchina(Financial Times/Tomorrow’s Papers Today)



The GOP candidates seemed to be in no doubt who was to blame for the market meltdown.

While the New York Times reported:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican candidate who is a moderate on immigration, joined the criticism of China on Monday by saying that the federal debt “has been given to us in large measure by the Chinese” and that “as the Chinese markets have a correction” it will have an outsized impact on the United States.

While the Chinese government is in fact the largest holder of United States government debt, its large purchases help hold down the interest payments that American taxpayers must ultimately bear to service that debt.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, potential candidate Joe Biden may have had a very satisfying lunch with his boss on Monday as President Obama returned from his two-week vacation.

The HuffPo‘s Sam Stein writes on what’s driving a potential run by a man who’s sought the highest office unsuccessfully twice before.



Turkey looks to be headed for another inconclusive election after talks over a coalition government appeared to have stalled. President Tayyip Erdogan has called for a fresh election and will meet on Tuesday with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss a temporary power-sharing administration.

After Britain re-opened its embassy in Tehran at the weekend after four years, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.



Cheating website Ashley Madison and its parent company were sued over the recent breach and release of user data. Meanwhile, there were reports linking the revelation of user information to two suicides.

Reuters reports that Boeing is looking at “hundreds” of possible layoffs in its satellite division.




The BBC has an exclusive interview with Fifa President Sepp Blatter, who says, wait for it, that he’s “clean” and there’s “no corruption in football.” Meanwhile, from a perspective of Fifa making friends and polishing its credibility, this maybe doesn’t help…


Finally, British IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died of a severe head injury he sustained during Sunday’s race at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.







France honors ‘humble heroes’ of train terror attack

The men who foiled a potential terror attack on a train on Friday will be honored by President Francois Hollande at a the Presidential Palace in Paris on Monday. Three US citizens and one Briton will be awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the nation’s highest honor in recognition for their “exceptional courage.”

The Guardian reports that:

Briton Chris Norman helped US fellow passengers Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos as they wrestled a suspected jihadi gunman to the ground after he opened fire on the train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris. Norman said he thought: “OK, I’m probably going to die anyway so let’s go.”

On Sunday, US Ambassador to France Jane Hartley held a press conference with the three Americans, who were reluctant to embrace the “hero” label.

For Sadler, “hiding or sitting back” was never going to accomplish anything.

“The gunman would have been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up. I want that lesson to be learned. In times of terror like that to please do something. Don’t just stand by and watch.”

Meanwhile, the political fallout from the incident continues across a nervy Europe and beyond.



Stock markets across Asia opened sharply lower on Monday, as anxiety persists about a slowdown in China.



ISIS militants are reported to have blown up an ancient temple near the Syrian town of Palmyra.

Talks between North and South Korea stretched into a third day, with little sign of a resolution, as tensions remain high.

Unrest in Beirut has been heightened as protests against the Lebanese government turned violent.

Investigations continue into the crash at an air show in southern England at the weekend, which police say killed at least 11 people.



With Hillary Clinton’s email woes continuing to affect her standing in polls, speculation that Vice President Joe Biden would enter the Democratic race intensified after he met with grassroots favorite Sen Elizabeth Warren, who has repeatedly said she would be sitting the contest out.



In a dramatic 100 meters final at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing, Usain Bolt – just – beat Justin Gatlin to the Gold.



Finally, following yesterday’s story that Ed Sheeran is to take a break from music and work in a charity shop, The Sun has an “exclusive” that boy band One Direction is apparently also planning to stop doing whatever it is they do. So there’s that.

Sun 1D(The Sun/Tomorrow’s Papers Today)



US soldiers foil train terror attack

Two off-duty US servicemen and a British fellow-passenger prevented what could have been a terrible terror attack on a train traveling between Amsterdam and Paris, when they overpowered a man reportedly armed with an AK47 and other weapons.



Representatives of the Koreas are expected to meet at the Demilitarized Zone on Saturday as tensions remain high following an exchange of artillery fire earlier in the week.

As investigations and recriminations continue following the deadly explosions at the port of Taijin, Ben Chu writes at The Independent on China‘s “flawed corruption crusade” and how the catastrophe illustrates how the country really works.

Corruption is endemic. Officials the length and breadth of the country have used their position to extort money for personal profit. Corruption is very much a family business in China. Those in a position to steal often use family members to invest the proceeds on their behalf. And family members, in turn, often use their official connections to do further lucrative business deals.

The economy’s structure makes corruption easy. Every property and land development deal in recent years has presented an opportunity to skim. And lots of these deals have taken place because state-owned banks have been told to lend hundreds of billions of dollars to developers to keep the country’s growth rate up. The benchmark by which officials have been judged is GDP growth – not the quality of their investments. And certainly not the rigour of their accounting.

This weekend marks the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.



US stocks fell sharply again on Friday, ending their worst week for four years.




Donald Trump held a rally at a football stadium in Mobile, Alabama – around 30,000 people showed up, the biggest crowd any candidate has yet drawn in the campaign.

If you missed it, here are the highlights.

(YouTube/Rikard CR)

MSNBC‘s Chris Hayes and his team did #TrumpCheckLive which was kind of like that 80s show “Pop-Up Video”. One of its inspired moments was when Trump asked the crowd “We’re being carried live on MSNBC. What do you think of MSNBC?”, drawing the predictable boos, the box popped up with “MSNBC loves Alabama”.

Meanwhile, Trump’s fellow GOP candidate Rand Paul faces a potentially decisive weekend in his home state of Kentucky as he tries to secure a rule change allowing him to run for both Senate and the Presidency.



Finally, there are few appropriate words to describe the brilliance of this. Have a marginally good-ish weekend.


(h/t Lola Gusman)

(Ah, but do they have one of these…?)



Syriza split sets up snap Greek election

Greeks will go to the polls next month after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned and called a snap election amid division and likely split within his governing Syriza party over austerity measures and the country’s EU bailout agreement.



What a difference a day makes. After yesterday’s parody of politics, there was a press conference on Thursday full of grace, faith, humor and humility.

When the 90-year-old former President got up to leave after a 40-minute session where he answered as many questions as reporters wanted to ask, the assembled press corps broke into applause.

We’re going to leave aside the latest bombastic nonsense from the GOP side, even though the Hillary Clinton campaign made social media hay on the back of it,

but there was apparently more trouble for the Democratic front-runner, as the controversy over her private email server now seems to have pulled in her most senior adviser. Brendan Bordelon writes at National Review:

It was probably inevitable that the woman always at Hillary Clinton’s side would one day be sucked into the vortex of suspicion and scandal surrounding the Democratic presidential frontrunner. For top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, that day seems to have arrived. Though rumors of impropriety have swirled around Abedin for over two years, in the past two weeks they’ve snowballed into concrete allegations.

Last week, the State Department inspector general claimed that the trusted Clinton confidant owes the government nearly $10,000 for violating rules regarding vacation and sick leave. And in court on Monday, Hillary Clinton admitted Abedin had an e-mail account on the now-infamous private server run out of Clinton’s house while she was secretary of state, and that the account “was used at times for government business.” State Department investigators say they’ve now expanded a probe into Clinton’s use of private e-mail to include “top aides,” meaning Abedin is almost certainly under federal investigation for the possible exchange of unsecured, classified data.

All of which comes on a day when the “Draft Biden” groundswell, well, swelled just a little more…



North Korea declared a “quasi state of war” with the South after Seoul said the North had fired across the Demilitarized Zone – the first armed clash between the states for five years.

British and French officials agreed on new measures to bolster security around Calais and counter migrants’ attempts to enter Britain via the Channel Tunnel.

Three firefighters lost their lives as wildfires in Washington state worsened.

At Fort Benning in Georgia on Friday, the first two female soldiers to qualify as US Army Rangers will graduate.

Hurricane Danny became the first named Atlantic hurricane of the season.

Out in the Pacific, meanwhile, Super Typhoon Atsani is even larger.

Meanwhile, July was the hottest month ever recorded, and 2015 is on track to be the hottest year since records began in 1880.



The New York Daily News is no longer for sale, according to a memo to staff from the paper’s owner Mort Zuckerman.



One business that is apparently for sale is Sprout Pharmaceuticals – maker of the female libido pill – Addyi – which has been bought by Valeant for about $1bn.

There’s still plenty of fallout from the Ashley Madison hack. And plenty of questions about privacy, morality, hypocrisy and – crucially – illegality. The AP reports:

Hundreds of U.S. government employees — including some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and law enforcement agencies — used Internet connections in their federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison, The Associated Press has learned.


They included workers at more than two dozen Obama administration agencies, including the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security. Others came from House or Senate computer networks.

The AP is not naming the government subscribers it found because they are not elected officials or accused of a crime.

But for every Duggar trying to get out in front of the story, there’s a desperately sad scenario like this…