China Rising
August 26, 2014

Scientists at China's Harbin Institute of Technology are "a step closer to creating a supersonic submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours," reports The South China Morning Post. The scientists have reportedly succeeded in replicating an air bubble that would allow vehicles and projectiles — such as a torpedo — to travel more quickly through water, which produces much more drag than air.

In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h, which would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of Technology in 2001. [SCMP]

Of course, there are some significant obstacles to the dream of traveling frictionlessly across the Pacific. For one, such a vessel would need an immensely powerful rocket to reach supersonic speeds, which in turn would create problems with steering. However, this new technology could prove useful in other ways. "[T]here's plenty of reason to believe a submarine could be built that would significantly exceed the speed of today's fastest models, which lumber along at a speed of 40 knots (about 46 mph)," writes Terence McCoy at The Washington Post. Take a look at the design below. --Ryu Spaeth

(South China Morning Post)
that's not a banana
7:03 p.m. ET

Aldi supermarket employees in Germany found more than just fruit in shipments from Colombia: Workers in 14 different stores discovered a total of 850 pounds of cocaine in several boxes of bananas.

Police spokesman Stefan Redlich said the illicit cargo was found in boxes in Berlin and the neighboring state of Brandenburg, and is the largest amount found in the capital in a single operation. The cocaine is worth an estimated €15 million, or $16.7 million. In some boxes, more than 10 kilograms were found, wrapped in black plastic.

Redlich told the radio station RBB he thinks the smugglers made a "logistical error" somewhere along the way. "The route across the Atlantic is known by police," he said. "The wrong container was probably used when the merchandise was put on board ship. Or possibly, there wasn't time for the smugglers to unload it when it arrived in Hamburg." Investigators are still searching through boxes for more drugs, Deutsche Welle reports, and it's a bit of a déjà vu moment: In January 2014, workers at Aldi branches in Berlin found 140 kilos of cocaine in banana boxes. Catherine Garcia

#Benghazi
4:32 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton will testify this month before a congressional panel investigating the Benghazi embassy attack, a lawyer for the former secretary of state said Monday. Despite saying there was "no basis, logic, or precedent" for the committee's demand that Clinton testify, Clinton's lawyer said she was "fully prepared to stay for the duration" of the hearing.

Clinton has already testified about the attack before Senate and House committees, and a handful of previous federal investigations found no evidence to support allegations of serious wrongdoing on her part. However, Republicans conducting yet another investigation called for Clinton to testify once more following revelations about her use of a private email account during her tenure in the Obama administration. Jon Terbush

Spinning it forward
3:58 p.m. ET
Chris Kleponis-Pool/Gettt Images

President Obama on Monday announced the formation of a nonprofit organization intended to expand opportunities for young male minorities, saying the work would remain a mission "for the rest of my life."

"America's future depends on us caring about this," Obama said at an event in New York to unveil the organization.

The nonprofit, the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, is an offshoot of the My Brother's Keeper initiative Obama launched last year to help young men of color reach the American dream.

The rollout came as racial unrest continued to roil Baltimore following the death in police custody of an unarmed black man, Freddie Gray. Though Obama did not address the incident as directly as he did last week, he touched on the same themes of discontent and disconnect at the heart of protests surrounding Gray's death when arguing for the nonprofit's importance.

"The only difference between me and a lot of other young men," Obama said. "is that I grew up in an environment that was a little more forgiving." Jon Terbush

Say what?
3:07 p.m. ET
Bas Czerwinski/Associated Press

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto said Sunday that there is no place for homosexuality in his country.

"The Republic of Kenya is a republic that worships God," Ruto said. "We have no room for gays and those others."

A spokesperson for Ruto later doubled down on the remark, calling homosexuality "unnatural and un-African."

The remark came on the same day Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kenya to discuss regional security. President Obama will visit Kenya in July. Jon Terbush

Baltimore
2:34 p.m. ET

In a Fox News interview Monday, Mitt Romney criticized Hillary Clinton's recent speech on police reform, saying Clinton was trying to "get more support in the African-American community."

Last week, Clinton called for the use of body cameras in every police department to increase transparency. During her speech at Columbia University, Clinton said that millions fewer Americans would live in poverty if it weren't for the U.S.' mass incarceration practices.

Romney, meanwhile, is having none of it, calling Clinton's speech "political in nature" and "very inappropriate."

"I was concerned that her comments really smacked of politicization of the terrible tragedies that are going on there," Romney said on Fox & Friends Monday, referencing the events in Baltimore. "We don't have mass incarcerations in America. Individuals are brought before tribunals, and they have counsel, they're given certain rights. Are we not going to lock people up who commit crimes, is that what she's suggesting?"

Watch Romney's interview in the video below. —Meghan DeMaria

May the force be with you
1:53 p.m. ET

At least, according to this Star Wars-themed promotional missive in honor of Star Wars Day:

Scott Walker: Star Wars nerd, Yoda-supported, and one slighty elongated last name away from intergalactic glory. Kimberly Alters

This doesn't look good
1:47 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Friday, the Pentagon released its annual report on sexual assaults in the military. Now, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has released her own report criticizing the Pentagon's data.

"I don't think the military is being honest about the problem," Gillibrand told The Associated Press. Gillibrand's critique alleges that the Pentagon didn't provide her with accurate assault figures from several military bases, and she says the actual number of sex crimes is more than what the Defense Department reported.

Gillibrand analyzed 107 military assault cases and found that in most cases, the punishments were "too lenient," AP reports. Less than a quarter of the cases went to trial at all, and only 11 led to a conviction for a sex crime. The Pentagon's report stresses that offenders "will be held accountable," AP reports, but Gillibrand questions that claim. As an example, she cites the case of an airman accused of sexual assault by three different victims who was discharged from the military without going to trial.

One of Gillibrand's main issues with the Pentagon report is her concern for the spouses of service members and for civilian women who lived near military bases. Gillibrand said that these people are "especially vulnerable" to assault, AP notes, but they aren't included in the Defense Department's reports. A Defense Department spokesperson, meanwhile, told AP that the department "does not have authority to include civilians in its surveys." Meghan DeMaria

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