HERE ARE THE TOP STORIES
The U.S. struck the biggest ever regional free-trade accord with Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations yesterday.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership — which has been negotiated for eight years — includes “tariff reductions for agriculture and automobiles, as well as intellectual-property rights for movies and pharmaceutical drugs, the free flow of information on the internet, wildlife conservation, online commerce, and dispute settlement practices for multinational corporations,” the Washington Post writes.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the pact would open up new markets for the U.S. to do business with. It’ll give “our workers the fair shot at success they deserve,” the president said.
Before the new partnership becomes a true reality, however, Obama has a big hurdle to overcome: U.S. Congress, where “the biggest trade deal in history is about to become Washington’s biggest political football,” POLITICO writes. Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the new accord, saying it falls short on many issues.
A bit of background.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a 12-nation trade and regulatory deal that would establish the world’s largest regional free trade zone in history.
The nations that make up the partnership are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam.
The TPP, which would encompass 40% of the world’s economy, is the largest trade deal since the 1994 free trade agreement with the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
President Obama has said the partnership would help ensure U.S. competitiveness against China. Opponents of the deal, which include labor unions and environmentalists, argue it’ll hurt U.S. jobs and environmental protection.
WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
President Obama declared a major disaster in South Carolina after historic rain and flooding continued to batter the U.S. state.
The floods have killed at least 12 people and caused mass evacuations and “a seemingly unending series of rescues as motorists got caught in rapidly rising waters,” BuzzFeed News’ Adolfo Flores writes. Additionally, tens of thousands of people were left stranded, many of them without running water.
While sunshine is expected in the southern state today, it will take weeks for the state to recover from the damage and return to normal. “This is not over. Just because the rain stops does not mean that we are out of the woods,” Gov. Nikki Haley said, according to the Associated Press.
So, where does climate change come in? You can’t really say that climate change is what caused the floods, the Washington Post writes. In this particular case, the weather systems interacting with each other are highly complicated. (For avid weather watchers, here’s a precise explanation.) But, this once in a 1,000 years rain event is hard to completely separate from the effects of climate change. “The idea that extreme rains are worsening due to climate change is well established,” according to the Post.
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
A big-time donor to the UK’s Conservative Party was secretly filmed dropping cash-stuffed backpacks at post offices around London.
Telecoms company Lycamobile, one of the Tory party’s largest corporate donors, is facing serious questions over its finances after BuzzFeed News investigative reporters secretly filmed three bagmen dropping off the money.
The cash drops have totaled up to £1 million each week and post office tellers have repeatedly raised red flags. Lycamobile said the deposits were just “day to day banking” but legal and financial experts said they were “deeply suspicious” and should be urgently investigated.
If these men aren’t guilty, why can’t they go free?
Four men who were convicted of murder, but who maintained they had been framed by a Chicago police detective, are all probably innocent, an official investigation commissioned by Mayor Rahm Emanuel has found.
In the case of one man, who was arrested 21 years ago, the report concludes, “[I]t is more likely than not that he is in fact innocent of the murders for which he was convicted.” But prosecutors say that doesn’t matter — and they want the report to remain secret, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.
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Quick things to know:
Russia is reportedly prepping “volunteers” to fight on the ground in Syria. (BuzzFeed News) Here’s how U.S. and Russia airstrikes in Syria show two different strategies. (New York Times) And Russia’s violations of Turkish airspace were “no accident,” according to the NATO chief. (BuzzFeed News)
Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo in Japan and Arthur B. McDonald of Queen’s University in Canada received the Nobel physics prize for their discovery that neutrinos have mass. (BuzzFeed News)
The cargo ship El Faro that went missing during Hurricane Joaquin has sunk and the body of one crew member was found, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. (BuzzFeed News)
Oregon shooter Chris Harper-Mercer’s personal manifesto laments about him being hated and not having a girlfriend. He shot and killed 9 people at Umpqua Community College last Thursday. (BuzzFeed News)
The U.S. commander in Afghanistan says the Afghan military requested the airstrikes that killed 22 people at a Kunduz hospital. (New York Times) And President Obama is contemplating a plan to leave at least 5,000 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2016. Earlier he had said he wanted all American soldiers out of there when he leaves office in January 2017. (Washington Post)
California becomes the fifth U.S. state to legalize doctor-assisted suicide. (BuzzFeed News)
The head of a controversial narcotics unit in Mississippi, who has been the focus of several recent BuzzFeed News stories on the unit’s recruitment of college aged informants, has resigned. He said the timing was a coincidence and a personal decision: “It’s been an ongoing thing for a while … nine years was enough.” (BuzzFeed News)
People are upset about Meryl Streep’s “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave” t-shirts. Streep and her Suffragette co-stars appeared in the shirts on the cover of Time Out London. (BuzzFeed)
McDonald’s starts offering all-day breakfast today in the U.S., but not all stores will be offering hash browns. Egg McMuffin and fries, anyone? (BuzzFeed News)
Over 10,000 pictures from the Apollo space program are now available online. Here are some of our favorites from the glory days of space travel. (BuzzFeed)
Life hack: How to get rid of ~all those unread emails~ on your iPhone without just using “Delete All.” (BuzzFeed)
Happy reading! Here are 43 books you won’t be able to stop talking about. (BuzzFeed)
All’s fair in love and Facebook? Two complete strangers met, fell in love, dated for two years, and got married all because of a mysterious Facebook glitch, BuzzFeed’s Stephanie McNeal writes. In 2009, Schuler Benson was living and working in Arkansas. One day he tried to log onto Facebook on his ~flip phone~ and saw that he was already signed in, but into the account of a Colorado woman named Celeste. Through messaging and becoming actual Facebook friends, the two found out they shared a similar sense of humor. And a few status updates, comments, and probably a whole lot of likes later, they decided to meet. And the rest is timeline history.
This letter was edited and brought to you by Claire Moses and Millie Tran. You can always reach us here.