A Chinese container ship has become the first vessel to sail into the newly expanded Panama Canal. Thousands gathered as the ship, called Cosco Shipping Panama, entered from the Atlantic en route to the Pacific. Construction on the new lane for the canal, which runs for 48 miles, began in 2007 and was due to finish in 2014. But strikes and disputes over costs delayed the $5.2 billion project. read more
A New York City man was ordered by the state Department of Transportation to fix the cracked sidewalk in front of his home or pay a fine. Patrick Colletti paid more than $6,000 for a new sidewalk in front of his Bronx home. Two weeks later, the city Department of Parks and Recreation put markings on the sidewalk indicating it was going to tear it up to plant a tree. "This is an example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing," said City Councilman James Vacca. Colletti said, "Who's responsible to pay me back of the concrete I just laid down? Am I going to be reimbursed?"
Transplant surgeons in China are awash in human organs. Some complain of working 24-hour shifts, performing back-to-back transplant surgeries. Others ensure they've got spare organs available, freshly harvested -- just in case. Some hospitals can source organs within just hours, while others report having two, three, or four backup organs, in case the first organ fails. All this has been taking place in China for over a decade, with no voluntary organ donation system and only thousands of executed prisoners -- what China says is its official organ source. In phone calls, Chinese doctors have said the real source of organs is a state secret. Meanwhile, practitioners of Falun Gong have disappeared in large numbers, and many have reported being blood tested while in custody. read more
"He's a druggie. It's not a secret that he's a druggie. I don't know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help. He just hasn't [sought] it yet. Hopefully he doesn't die before he comes to his senses. That's about all you can say. I don't know what else to say. ... It's just a horrible story. That's all there is to it. I mean, I hate to say it, but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him." -- Johnny Manziel's father Paul in a phone interview Friday with ESPN
Hillary Clinton regained a double-digit lead over Donald Trump this week, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday. The June 20-24 poll showed that 46.6 percent of likely American voters supported Clinton while 33.3 percent supported Trump. Another 20.1 percent said they would support neither candidate. Trump's slip this week came as he struggled to show that he can keep up with a Clinton campaign apparatus that has dwarfed his in size and funding. Campaign finance disclosures released earlier this week showed Trump started June with a war chest of just $1.3 million, a fraction of Clinton's $42 million.
Utah Congresswoman Mia Love has decided to skip the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, giving up her delegate slot to focus on her re-election bid. She saw no benefit in attending the gathering where Donald Trump is expected to claim the party's presidential nomination. She's the only member of Utah's 40-person Republican delegation to back out of the convention, though others are considering it, largely over opposition to Trump. "I don't see any upsides to it," Love said Friday. "I don't see how this benefits the state." Love won't say whether she'll vote for Trump in November, though she vehemently rules out voting for Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump has revised his proposed ban on foreign Muslims. The issue came up Saturday as Trump gave reporters a tour of his golf course on Scotland's eastern coast. During one of four stops along the 18-hole course, a reporter asked Trump if he would be okay with a Muslim from Scotland coming into the United States and he said it "wouldn't bother me." Spokeswoman Hope Hicks saying Saturday that Trump only wants to ban Muslims from countries with heavy terrorism. Hicks said in an email that her boss took this new position -- which is a dramatic scaling back of the position he first took in early December -- during a policy speech nearly two weeks ago. In that speech, Trump did not mention Muslims and called for a temporary ban on "certain people coming from certain horrible -- where you have tremendous terrorism in the world, you know what those places are." At the time, it appeared that Trump was expanding his ban to include more people, not limiting its scope. read more
A majority of white Evangelical Protestants -- 59 percent -- say the United States has lost its Christian identity, according to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings Institution. This represents an 11-point jump from 48 percent in 2012. "[They] miss the Reagan era or even the Eisenhower years when, in their view, a more masculine and Christian nation commanded greater respect abroad and reflected their own white Evangelical political and cultural attitudes," said R. Andrew Chesnut, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.
At a Federalist Society lunch in Washington yesterday, conservative columnist and TV commentator George Will announced that he changed his Maryland voter registration this month from Republican to unaffiliated. "This is not my party," he told the crowd. Will, who has arguably been the most biting and prolific member of the conservative anti-Trump club, reportedly cited House Speaker Paul Ryan's endorsement of Trump as one of the last straws, and was noncommittal about whether he would support Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson. Asked to recommend what conservative anti-Trumpers should do now, Will said: "Make sure he loses." In a commentary in April, Will wrote, "Were [Trump] to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states -- condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation's civic life. Second, conservatives can try to save from the anti-Trump undertow as many senators, representatives, governors and state legislators as possible." read more
Hundreds of GOP strategists with experience working on presidential campaigns are refusing to work for Donald Trump, Associated Press finds, because it "might stain their resumes, spook other clients and even cause problems at home." "Right now I feel no obligation to lift a finger to help Donald Trump," said Brent Swander, an operative who coordinated nationwide logistics for several Republican presidential campaigns. "Everything that we're taught as children -- not to bully, not to demean, to treat others with respect -- everything we're taught as children is the exact opposite of what the Republican nominee is doing. How do you work for somebody like that? What would I tell my family?"
The Democrats' platform drafting committee took a first step toward giving Bernie Sanders a major concession, voting to adopt language in support of a national $15 minimum wage. The committee also aligned itself with Sanders' support for progressive ideas such as abolishing the death penalty and expanding Social Security. The drafting committee differed with both Sanders and Hillary Clinton on one major point during Saturday's negotiations -- it refused to adopt a proposed amendment by Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) that would have opposed President Barack Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Yael T. Abouhalkah, Kansas City Star: Gov. Sam Brownback and his extremist Republican legislative supporters in Topeka just got hit with a massive body blow from four ex-governors of Kansas. And the Aug. 2 GOP primaries just got a lot hotter. In a shocking, bipartisan -- and accurate -- rebuke of Brownback, former governors Bill Graves, Mike Hayden, John Carlin and Kathleen Sebelius sent out a letter to Kansans on Friday. That's two Republicans (Graves and Hayden) and two Democrats (Carlin and Sebelius) joining forces to lambaste Brownback. read more
The Leave campaign in the U.K. has appeared to back off key pledges it made less than 24 hours after the vote to leave the European Union was successful. UKIP leader Nigel Farage distanced himself from the campaign promise that £350 million of weekly EU contributions would instead be spent on the country's NHS health care system. Immigration levels could remain unchanged, another leader said. "Frankly, if people watching think that they have voted and there is now going to be zero immigration from the EU, they are going to be disappointed," said Tory MEP Daniel Hannan. The ratings agency Moody's has lowered the outlook for the UK's credit rating from stable to negative following the vote. The governor of the Bank of England has stepped forward to calm financial markets after the Brexit vote sent the pound to its lowest level since 1985.
Sixty years after his service in the Army, Jesse Eakin still completes his outfits with a pin that bears a lesson from the Korean War: Never Impossible. That maxim has been tested by a low-grade but persistent threat far different than the kind Eakin encountered in Korea: well water that's too dangerous to drink. It gives off a strange odor and bears a yellow tint. It carries sand that clogs faucets in the home Eakin shares with his wife, Shirley, here in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Eakins told the state environmental agency about their bad water nearly seven years ago and hoped for a quick resolution. Like thousands of others who live in the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale, however, they learned their hopes were misplaced. read more