How far will they go? Republicans are gearing up for next week’s simple roll call vote on stripping Planned Parenthood of all federal funding. This follows claims by an anti-abortion group that its videos caught the nonprofit’s members arranging to sell fetal tissue illegally — a charge Planned Parenthood denies. GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz says the vote — unlikely to survive Obama’s veto — isn’t enough, and he’d risk a government shutdown to get his way. But GOP leaders don’t want to appear obstructionist, and will attempt to keep the ideologues under control.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The enemy of your enemy might also be your enemy. Turkey’s long been hostile to the Kurdish statehood movement, but the nation’s partnership with the U.S. to fight ISIS has brought it into a coalition that prizes Kurds as fighters against the self-declared caliphate. While Turkey’s anti-ISIS fight has been heralded by NATO, members’ support could be derailed by concerns over escalating airstrikes against Kurds in Iraq. Scrapping the two-year cease-fire with the Kurdish PKK might further destabilize Turkey, where separatist attacks are increasing.
In 2012, Black Americans turned out to vote at a higher rate than whites. A testament to the success of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the historic achievement came just as a decades-long effort to undermine the law was gaining traction. The following year, the Supreme Court hobbled the act’s enforcement, and now civil rights advocates are legally challenging a restrictive new North Carolina election law. The statute makes voting harder, which research shows suppresses Black voting, and voting rights backers nationwide will be watching to see whether a federal judge invalidates it.
He was called both “commander of the faithful” and “terrorist.” But before anyone could collect the $10 million bounty on the Taliban founder’s head, he died, the world discovered this week. That leaves a vacuum in the delicate peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, and what fills it may leave Western officials missing the one-eyed cleric. Already, Omar’s son has walked out on his father’s successor, probably taking a sizable faction with him. This likely means more jihadis will drift to the banner of “Daesh” (Islamic State), and it’s not negotiating.
Joe Biden said to be considering White House run. (NYT)
Possible MH370 part arrives at French testing facility. (USA Today)
U.K. plane crash reportedly kills three bin Laden relatives. (CNN)
Cecil the lion’s brother, Jericho, also feared dead. (NBC)
‘Heat dome’ makes Iranian city feel like 165 degrees. (Washington Post)
To a young Jewish communist in the 1940s, South Carolina must have seemed bleak. Maybe that’s why Sidney Rittenberg, after serving in the U.S. Army, decided to remain in China at the onset of Mao Zedong’s revolution. Thus began a remarkable journey that included interpreting for the chairman and spending 16 years in solitary confinement. Back in the U.S., he ran a consultancy, helping major firms understand Chinese culture. At 93, Rittenberg continues to offer a unique perspective on China, knowing both the corruption and potential of today and the “great cruelty and suffering” that preceded it.
Does the Germanwings horror story still bother you? Well, there’s a quick way we can reduce the odds of our pilots deciding to fly us into the hereafter, writes OZY’s Nathan Siegel: Hire women. Men are three times more likely to kill themselves, and get this: Among Americans, at least, nine out of every 10 murder-suicides are committed by a man. It’ll be an uphill battle, however, as only about 5 percent of pilots are women. So parents, tell your daughters they should become pilots, and we’ll all be safer.
They take hostages, blow up planes and, frankly, they’re sick of it. Muslim-American actors seem fit only for Hollywood’s terrorist roles, limiting their careers and making them pariahs in their own diaspora. Maz Jobrani, who’s been killed by Chuck Norris before he could say “Allahu akbar,” has sworn off such roles and now thrives doing stand-up. Others see it as a professional challenge — adding depth to cartoonish characters — but note that no Middle Eastern man has achieved stardom since the late Omar Sharif a half-century ago.
It’s more than a blip on the radar. A military mishap in 1958 saw a 12-foot, 7,600-pound monster plummet into the waters off Savannah, Georgia. As one among hundreds of suspected “broken arrows” — nuclear bombs gone missing in air or sea accidents — the Mark 15 bomb, packed with uranium and 400 pounds of explosives, was deemed “irretrievably lost.” Officials recommend it remain untouched, and there’s debate over whether it’s unarmed, as the government claims. But it’s a political hot potato, at best, and a terrifying weapon in the wrong hands.
Some say it’s skill. Others, spirit. But nitty-gritty fans know that NFL success is about lawyers, pens and money. Those guys love to point out contractual errors, and writer Bill Barnwell has a treat for them: an all-clunker-contracts team, including QB Josh McCown, signed by the Browns after an exceptional 2013 passing season, in which his interception rate dropped a decimal point — before it promptly returned to 4-plus percent. Using categories that include management infatuation and marginal talent, Barnwell has anointed this year’s underachievers while no doubt galvanizing competing armchair analysts.