Happy Tuesday! A funeral home in El Salvador is offering customers the option to buy hot pink coffins with photos of Barbie embroidered along the interior lining, in case you’re interested in that kind of thing.
If you are interested in that kind of thing, please stay far, far away from us and our families.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- A group of American scientists said Sunday that they had achieved net energy gain in a fusion reaction for the second time. The researchers at the federal Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California first achieved the breakthrough—which could pave the way for limitless nuclear energy without the need for uranium—in December, but they said their experiment nine days ago produced even more energy than the initial one.
- The U.S. Navy deployed more than 3,000 troops to the Red Sea on Sunday in response to aggressive action by Iran toward civilian vessels in recent months. The Associated Press reported late last week that the Pentagon is considering whether to put armed personnel on commercial ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz as tensions between the two countries escalate.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this weekend he planned to forgo the remaining pieces of his controversial judicial overhaul plan. Aside from a plan to change the composition of the committee that selects judges, he told Bloomberg TV Sunday that he wouldn’t push the rest of the package. “That’s basically what’s left because other things I think we should not legislate,” he said.
- Three ships capsized in the Mediterranean Sea over the weekend, leaving more than 80 people missing and at least 10 dead. Several accidents involving migrant vessels in Europe have ended in devastation in recent months, including one off the coast of Greece that is presumed to have killed hundreds in June.
- Italy appears to be backing away from its membership in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which would remove one of the only major Western economies to join. Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto recently criticized the decision to join the initiative four years ago as an “improvised and atrocious act,” hinting that the government is looking for a way out “without damaging relations.”
- Ukrainian security services claimed Monday they had detained an informant in a Russian plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky. The informant was attempting to share details about Zelensky’s visit to Mykolaiv—a region in southern Ukraine—in preparation for a Russian airstrike on the area, according to Ukrainian officials.
- Jeff Gunter, a former U.S. ambassador to Iceland during the Trump administration, announced Monday he is running as a Republican to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen in Nevada. Gunter joins a growing GOP primary field, including former Nevada Secretary of State Jim Marchant and military veteran Sam Brown. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has voiced approval for Brown’s bid.
- Mike Pence’s presidential campaign announced Monday the former vice president had secured enough individual donors to qualify for the first Republican presidential primary debate in Milwaukee on August 23. Eight candidates have now qualified for the debate: Pence, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Chris Christie, and Doug Burgum.
China Continues Testing United States’ Mettle
It’s been a big year for shady activity by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since January alone, the American public has learned of a Chinese spy balloon over the United States, a secret police outpost in Manhattan, a listening station in Cuba, and People’s Liberation Army pilots and sailors picking fights with U.S. military planes and ships in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.
Following a post-balloon freeze in relations, the Biden administration has been pursuing a diplomatic detente in an effort to find areas where Washington and Beijing can work together—and establish high-level, fail-safe levers to avoid any potential crises. But revelations about Chinese espionage and intimidation efforts continue: The last month has seen an ominous trifecta of hacking U.S. officials’ emails, tag-teaming naval operation off the coast of Alaska, and bribing U.S. service members to spy for the CCP. China’s pattern of bad behavior is leaving President Joe Biden open to criticism of his pursuit of what could be ever-dwindling common ground.