Good morning! On this date in 1894, the first automobile race was held, a rally from Paris to the French town of Rouen. Jules-Albert, Comte de Dion, was the fastest driver, completing the 80-mile distance in five hours and 40 minutes, but he drove a steam-powered vehicle that required a second person to stoke the engine and was thus ruled ineligible. The official winner, Albert Lemaître, averaged a breakneck 12 mph in his gas-powered Peugeot.
Stat of the day: 20 million — The New England Journal of Medicine’s estimate of the number of Americans who have gained insurance coverage through Obamacare. (Via: TPM)
Moving along nicely –> According to the BBC, the UN’s nuclear watchdog says that “Iran has turned all of its enriched uranium closest to the level needed to make nuclear arms into more harmless forms.”
Gaza –> The Guardian rounds up the latest: five Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces attacked a hospital — and the overall Palestinian death toll is at least 550; seven Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting, bringing total Israeli deaths to 25. John Kerry announced that the US would provide humanitarian aid to Gaza. AND: At AJA, Joseph Dana writes that Netanyahu ended up in a ground war for which he has no exit strategy. ALSO: On MSNBC, Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal “unloaded” — as TPM’s Tom Kludt put it — on the Western media for providing too few Palestinian voices in their coverage of the conflict.
Through the looking glass –> TNR’s Julia Ioffe writes that “the Russian public has a totally different understanding of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.” AND: Anna Nemtsova reports for The Daily Beast what happened when she and two colleagues were detained by hostile pro-Russian separatists while trying to gain access to the crash site.
Another whistleblower –> A former State Department official says that “ongoing NSA surveillance abuses are taking place under the auspices of Executive Order 12333, which came into being in 1981, before the era of digital communications, but is being used to collect them promiscuously.” Conor Friedersdorf has the story at The Atlantic.
Showboating –> Texas Gov. Rick Perry is sending 1,000 National Guardsmen to “secure” the heavily militarized border. Christy Hoppe reports for The Dallas Morning News that sheriffs on the border say they need more deputies, not soldiers. AND: At Slate, Emily Bazelon writes that Democratic governors turning away refugee children should be ashamed of themselves.
Still powerful –> At Roll Call, Emily Cahn reports that megachurches are still “mega-influential” in low-turnout GOP primaries.
“Right side of history” –> On Monday, Obama signed a long-anticipated executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT Americans.
Venice II? –> Boston’s WGBH reports that as sea levels rise, the city may need a network of canals to keep above water.
Dire warnings that didn’t come to pass –> At the SacBee, David Cay Johnston writes that the Golden State has produced jobs at a far faster rate than the national average after raising taxes to balance its budget, defying the usual warnings of impending disaster by the business community.
This is what plutocracy looks like –> NYC officials approved a 33-story luxury condo’s plan to offer some affordable housing, but with a separate entrance for the working stiffs so that the one-percent residents won’t have to see them. Caroline Bankoff brings the appropriate amount of outrage to her story in NYMag.