Last week, China debuted its Silk Road Economic Belt (or "belt and road initiative"), a large-scale infrastructure project intended to launch "a new era of globalization" by promoting trade between Asia and other regions. Named for the historic Silk Road, the project is also designed to cast China as the new leading defender of free trade, stepping into a geopolitical role President Trump's protectionist rhetoric threatens to leave vacant.
To promote this new Silk Road — and take a swipe at the United States — China's state-run media outlet People's Daily has released a series of cutesy videos preaching international trade and friendship. Belt and road participants will be able to "talk to the world through peace and love," "start a business and watch it grow," and "take my hand and have no regrets," claymation figures explain in a chipper song entitled "One rap song to tell you what exactly is the Belt and Road."
Another video, starring a man who has decided this international trade initiative is the perfect topic for his preschooler's bedtime stories, pointedly notes that "any country can join anywhere," including the non-member U.S.
Critics say China's new pro-trade rhetoric doesn't mesh with its ongoing trade restrictions. "The only reason China has a leg to stand on in this argument is the campaign rhetoric and ongoing statements of President Trump and his advisers," said Scott Kennedy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in an interview with The Washington Post.
Watch the claymation video below, and check out two other clips via the Post. Bonnie Kristian
Big news for Waterloo fans.
No, the second Mamma Mia! movie was not leaked a month early. Napoleon's famous hat from his just-as-famous losing battle was sold at auction for the equivalent of $325,000 Monday, exactly 203 years after his crushing surrender, BBC reports.
It's a small price to pay to emulate the French style icon, whose bicorne hat elongated his actually-not-short stature and made sure he could be seen in battle. This hat is one of only 19 in existence, though Napoleon owned about 120 until he was exiled, per BBC. One from the Battle of Marengo sold for around $2.2 million in 2014, yet this Waterloo exclusive was only expected to fetch around $46,000.
The Los Angeles Times is locally owned for the first time in nearly 20 years, after Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong took ownership of the newspaper Monday, reports CNN Money.
Soon-Shiong acquired the Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and the rest of the California News Group from Tronc for $500 million, telling employees in a memo that he hopes to make the Times competitive with The New York Times and The Washington Post. "I've not gone into this transaction from a financial basis at all," he wrote. "There's an opportunity to make a major impact on the nation."
In his optimistic note, Soon-Shiong told Times employees that he considered "fake news" to be "a cancer of our times," and forecasted positive growth for the paper because of his dedication to "the essential role of journalism."
The Times was previously owned by Tronc, the Chicago-based newspaper group, but the company announced its intention to sell the Los Angeles paper back in February. Soon-Shiong is a surgeon and part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, and he has also expressed interest in buying other regional papers around the country like the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, and the New York Daily News, reports NPR. Read more at CNN Money. Summer Meza
England was looking to settle for a 1-1 draw with Tunisia, the top-ranked African team, on Monday in the World Cup group stage. But instead, Tottenham striker Harry Kane headed Harry Maguire's corner kick past Tunisia's Farouk Ben Mustapha in the first minute of stoppage time, ending the match 2-1.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) June 18, 2018
Kane was also responsible for England's first goal in the 11th minute, and Tunisia's Ferjani Sassi scored the equalizing goal on a penalty in the 33rd minute. With his stoppage-time goal, Kane became the first English player since Gary Lineker in 1990 to score multiple goals in a World Cup game, ESPN reports.
The win gives England an important 3 points, with the Three Lions next facing Group G rival Panama on June 24. Jeva Lange
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 18, 2018
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross didn't divest from foreign companies until a reporter found out he broke his promise
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told the Office of Government Ethics that he had divested from foreign companies, then kept his holdings for months, a Forbes investigation published Monday found.
Ross kept his stakes in a company co-owned by the Chinese government, a shipping firm linked to the Kremlin, and a Cyprus bank that is entangled in the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He pledged to rid himself of all possible conflicts of interest, but he and his family continued to do business with foreign companies affected by Ross' decisions as a government official.
After Forbes contacted him asking about his holdings, Ross said through a spokesperson that his financial disclosures would soon more accurately reflect his holdings. Soon after Ross learned that damaging stories would be published in the fall, the commerce secretary shorted stock in the Kremlin-linked company, setting himself up for more profit.
"The secretary did not lie," said the spokesperson, emphasizing that Ross did eventually divest. However, Forbes reports that Ross may have broken one policy by misrepresenting his finances in a sworn statement. He has reportedly amended that statement since then. Read more about Ross' tangled financial web at Forbes. Summer Meza
There are now a bunch of pictures of Trump and Kim Jong Un hanging in the White House — where pictures of Trump and Emmanuel Macron used to be
President Trump has reportedly redecorated the White House with … pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un? The Wall Street Journal's White House reporter, Michael C. Bender, spotted the unexpected wall art in the West Wing, noting that the images have apparently replaced "pics of Trump with Emmanuel Macron, president of France, one of America's closest allies."
Pictures of President Trump and Kim Jong Un in the West Wing of the White House. A few weeks ago, these frames surrounded pics of Trump with Emmanuel Macron, president of France, one of America’s closest allies. pic.twitter.com/RZja99SDnJ
— Michael C. Bender (@MichaelCBender) June 18, 2018
Trump has faced backlash over his glowing praise of Kim, who is responsible for egregious human rights violations. Trump said this spring that "everyone thinks" he should win the Nobel Peace Prize for helping thaw tensions with North Korea, "but I would never say it." Jeva Lange
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is definitely okay with separating immigrant children from their parents at the border. But last year, he wasn't so sure.
There wasn't a big fuss last month when Kelly said a new policy separating children and parents could be a "tough deterrent" for immigration and refused to call it cruel in an NPR interview. But the policy is getting more controversial by the day, and everyone from former first ladies to ex-White House staffers are coming out of the woodwork to decry it.
Kelly used to think a little differently too. In March 2017, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly told CNN's Wolf Blitzer the department was "considering" family separation "in order to deter more movement" across the border.
Yet when confronted by Senate Democrats later that month, Kelly dialed his comments back, saying children and parents would only be separated if illness or other extenuating circumstances demanded it, per CNN. Then Kelly totally reversed, telling CNN he didn't think he ever advocated for family separation policies at all. "We might under certain circumstances do that, but I don't think I've ever said as a deterrent or something like that," Kelly said.
Sometimes bad memes happen to decent people, and unfortunately that appears to be the case for Minnesota Democratic Senate candidate Richard Painter, who got a little too literal with the ol' "dumpster fire" joke. Speaking in front of a flaming trash receptacle, Painter informs his would-be constituents that "some people see a dumpster fire and do nothing but watch the spectacle. Some are too scared to face the danger, or they think it will benefit them if they let it keep on burning."
With a truly astonishing lack of humor, Painter then reveals that while there is an "inferno raging in Washington … here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, we know how to put out a fire." This proclamation is accompanied by a literal cascade of water mercilessly extinguishing the metaphor.
Try to watch with as straight a face as Painter's, below. Jeva Lange