While Kiev warns of a “great war” with Russia, NATO is preparing to create a quick-reaction force capable of challenging Russian troops. The alliance is realizing that its “core mutual-defense mission is more intensely relevant than at any time since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” OZY’s Emily Cadei writes. The plan, to be vetted at a NATO summit in Wales this week, would form a 4,000-strong force capable of 48-hour deployments.
The Presidential Daily Brief
This time, it’s no secret. The Pentagon announced that it launched a strike targeting Al-Shabaab in Somalia, where operations are usually hush-hush. While officials held back details, reports say U.S. drones launched missiles near the terror group’s stronghold of Barawe. A Somali governor said the target appeared to be a meeting attended by Ahmed Godane, who claimed responsibility for last year’s deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall. Military officials say they’re awaiting intel on the mission’s success.
A challenge to the Texas voting law lands in court today, with both sides claiming discrimination. Justice Department attorneys will argue that requiring voters to have government-issued identification discriminates against minorities because of the cost and travel involved. Republicans, meanwhile, lament that it’s southern, GOP-led states that have been targeted by a Voting Rights Act requirement, hobbled by the Supreme Court, that they get federal clearance for voting statutes. If plaintiffs can prove minority exclusion is intentional, the feds are back in the picture.
He’s crying all the way to the bank. The Tea Party’s biggest victim and former House majority leader has a new role as vice chairman of a boutique firm in NYC. Following a stunning electoral upset in June, the Virginia Republican is joining investment bank Moelis & Co., where he’ll work as a strategic consultant with corporate and institutional clients. “I knew I wanted to join a firm with a great entrepreneurial spirit,” said Cantor, who’s trading in small votes for big bucks.
Islamic State Says It Has Killed Second U.S. Journalist, Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help
Islamic State claims to have beheaded second U.S. journalist. (NPR)
Americans detained in North Korea: We need help. (CNN)
Nude photo leaks spark cloud security probe. (Washington Post)
Hong Kong authorities arrest 19 pro-democracy protesters. (Reuters)
Poll shows growing support for Scottish independence. (USA Today)
Coachella Valley High School in Southern California is giving its grimacing “Arab” sports mascot — a relic from the 1920s inspired by the area’s date-palm industry — a makeover. The Riverside County school is retiring the “stereotypical” white headdress, scruffy beard and disproportionate hooked nose following complaints by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. But the “Arab” lives on to battle other area schools with mascots like the “Moors,” “Sheiks,” and “Rajas,” in an apparent attempt to stay ahead of the game.
Was it good for you? It wasn’t good for them. All five geckos involved in a zero-gravity reproduction experiment in a Russian space sex mission have died. The landing section of the Foton-M satellite returned to Earth, but the miniature crew was dead on arrival. The randy reptiles, four females and one male, looked like they’d frozen to death. But an emergency commission will be convened to determine exactly what robbed them of their precious bodily fluids.
The personal gadget trailblazer may have a new way to help you part with your cash. Ahead of Apple’s much-anticipated release of the newest iPhone, a report reveals plans to team up with credit card companies and retailers to create the ultimate e-wallet. Visa, American Express and MasterCard have tentatively agreed to give iPhones instant purchasing capability. Instead of digging for plastic, it may soon be possible to simply walk up to a cashier and fumble with your smartphone instead.
Who you callin’ Neanderthal? After finding their artwork in Gibraltar, scientists are thinking better of humanity’s early cousins. The cross-hatched engraving in Gorham’s Cave — a geometric pattern resembling tic-tac-toe — is the first-known example of Neanderthal rock art. The findings are the latest evidence that we may have underestimated the intellectual abilities of Neanderthals, who buried their dead, adorned themselves with paint and ate a varied diet. What now? “Australopithecus” insults?
Being 15-plus games behind didn’t stop the Phillies from finessing the 11th combined no-hitter in MLB history yesterday with four pitchers. How? Walks don’t count. The first hurler, Cole Hamels, surrendered five of them in six innings and 108 pitches. Then relievers Jake Diekman and Ken Giles pitched two perfect innings, leaving closer Jonathan Papelbon to seal the 7-0 win over the National League East second-place Atlanta Braves. Leave it to baseball to make last-place fans happy.