Today, on Earth Day, John Kerry shares the news that’s most on his mind. Kerry grew up all over the world. He volunteered for Vietnam, and came home disillusioned. At 27, he spoke out against the war, earning him a spot on President Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List.” Later, he represented Massachusetts for 28 years in the U.S. Senate. As President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, he helped negotiate a deal to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and was instrumental in signing the Paris climate change accord. He may be out of government, but he’s still in the fight — with plans to publish his memoir this fall.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Oceans are a great passion of mine and something I elevated as a global priority at the U.S. State Department. Why? Because all life depends on the oceans. Circulation in the North Atlantic has slowed to the lowest level in centuries, which scientists fear will devastate fisheries and lead to rising sea levels. Meanwhile, billions of pounds of plastic end up in the oceans every year, endangering wildlife and risking our health as the debris enters the food chain. We need an international agreement, modeled on the Paris Agreement, to bind countries to reduce plastic use. We could get there with leadership.
This article brought back a lot of memories about a dark time in America and the powerful gesture by First Lady Barbara Bush that helped turn on a light. Her passing at 92 this week gave us a chance to remember when she held a child with AIDS in her arms in 1989 and dispelled the popular misconception that the disease could be spread through mere physical contact. At a time when many were still afraid to say the word AIDS and a lot of politicians preyed on fear, she did something human and profoundly important. Rest in peace.
This is a good reminder that every action has a reaction. While we’ve become isolated in our own neighborhood and at odds with our partners on everything from Cuba to the border with Mexico, China has doubled down and become the primary trading partner of Brazil, Chile and Peru. A consistent by-product of this administration’s bluster is that we’ve inadvertently created space for other countries to gain influence at our expense. “America First” has meant “America alone,” and leaders like Xi Jinping are happy to fill the void.
Foreign aid investment on public health initiatives is empirically linked to state stability — I saw proof of this everywhere I traveled as secretary of state. Politicians who decry the military cost of dealing with failed states, refugee crises, global pandemics and more should read this: The evidence shows you either pay now or later. Aid serves both strategic and humanitarian aims, which is why cutting the United States Agency for International Development’s budget by 33 percent would be an unforced error of disastrous proportions. (Disclosure: The Foreign Policy article I cite was co-authored by my daughter Dr. Vanessa Kerry.)
Back when magazines were physical things you could hold in your hand and stack in piles, I used to read Rolling Stone to follow my musical idols, from John Lennon to Bob Dylan. Now I go online and follow the magazine’s prolific environmental reporter Jeff Goodell. He writes here about how climate disasters in 2017 cost the U.S. more than $300 billion and displaced more than a million Americans from their homes — numbers that will only increase as climate change worsens. This will put some steel in your spine about the stakes.
Know This: On this Earth Day, learn how most Americans believe Mother Nature can be saved and how you can participate. Dozens were killed today in a suicide attack on a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan, and four were killed, reportedly by a naked gunman, at a Waffle House in Tennessee. Eulogized as the “first lady of the greatest generation,” presidential wife and mother Barbara Bush was laid to rest Saturday in Houston, Texas. Actor Verne Troyer of ‘Austin Powers’ fame has died at age 49. Tourists were evacuated today from France’s Mont-Saint-Michel abbey after a visitor reportedly threatened security services. And Nabi Tajima, believed to be the world’s oldest person, died in Japan yesterday at age 117.
Sweet Gesture: Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush wore multicolored “book socks” to his wife’s funeral yesterday, paying tribute to Barbara Bush’s commitment to family literacy.
Talk to Us: May 7-11 is Teacher Appreciation Week, so we’re giving you the chance to honor your favorite teacher with the OZY Educator Awards. Nominations are due today, so be sure to tell us what’s special about this excellent teacher in your life. They could win an OZY Educator Award.
If you ever wonder whether it’s worth fighting on principle even when the odds are long, read this and remember that the odds have always been long in big fights that changed the world. In his new book on the Marshall Plan, Benn Steil introduces us to the group of Americans who overcame calls for retrenchment at home and nationalism in Europe to enact a massive aid package to rescue postwar economies and rebuild our former enemies. Echoes of today. They won the fight — we should too.
I was secretary of state flying halfway across the world when the bombs went off in my hometown. Friends of my family had grandkids suffer that day. It was gut-wrenching. Five years later, the letters, flags and flowers left at the finish line as a makeshift memorial have been preserved. The resolve of the city I love was not shaken but strengthened.
A point of personal privilege, as we used to say in the Senate: I love cycling. Every year, the Paris-Roubaix cycling race, held in northern France, is among the most picturesque of world competitions. It’s always fun to read about those who go against the grain and opt for unique bikes. Check out their innovative choices in tires, tubes and tapes.
Earth Day 1970 changed my life. It was a new kind of activism for a young guy just home, disillusioned from war. I love this article — it gives me even more confidence about the future. Eight students in Florida are battling Gov. Rick Scott over his negligence on climate change, calling for the state to enact a court-ordered “Climate Recovery Plan.” Once again, the youngest are the wisest. Don’t bet against these kids. It’s time we follow their lead, both on climate change and common sense gun law reform.
I am a Bruce Springsteen loyalist through and through. The Boss campaigned for me all over the country in 2004 — the first time he’d ever endorsed a presidential candidate. He’s loyal too. After I lost, he came to see me at home and gave me the guitar he’d used in those concerts. What a friend! Happy birthday to his mom, Adele, who just turned 93. They celebrated at a bar in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where Bruce danced with her and led the crowd in singing “Stand by Me” and “My Girl.” Such class, and you know where he gets it.
The iconic Willie O’Ree broke hockey’s color barrier. Decades later, Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers recounts the challenges he has faced as an African American in an almost entirely white league and the inspiration he still draws from Willie. It will make you think about the lingering issues of race and fairness in life today.