This one was personal. The American military has confirmed that it carried out a drone strike in Syria aimed at killing Mohammed Emwazi, the Kuwaiti-born British militant who infamously beheaded journalist James Foley and other Western hostages. While a senior military source said there’s a “high degree of certainty” that Emwazi was hit in the attack near Raqqa, the Pentagon has yet to confirm this. Kurdish fighters, meanwhile, have reportedly seized the ISIS-controlled town of Sinjar, which means the jihadis are having a pretty bad day.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re going for the jugular. In a bid to hobble the militants’ movement and reclaim land, Kurdish Iraqis — with help from coalition warplanes — are pushing to retake Sinjar in northern Iraq. Regaining the strategic town near the Syrian border would help cut off supplies between the ISIS-controlled cities of Raqqa and Mosul. The Kurds have controlled part of the town since a major offensive in December 2014, but today’s “Operation Free Sinjar” — which has already captured a key highway — sees 7,500 new Peshmerga fighters on the ground.
They’re “a threat against public order.” So said Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman as he announced temporary border checks to slow the surge of migrants. The new controls, to be implemented on Öresund Bridge and at ferry terminals, will last at least 10 days — and coincide with refugee crisis talks in Malta, where EU leaders today approved a $1.9 billion fund to help curb African migration. But Sweden is sending a clear message that it’s tiring of shouldering the bulk of the influx. “Other countries,” Ygeman says, “must take their responsibility.”
Will it go up in flames? A proposal from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development seeks to forbid smoking in subsidized housing, putting a million homes on the frontline of the battle against secondhand smoke. Though enforcement would be problematic and rely on “community buy-in,” proponents say it would save $94 million in annual health spending, while reducing maintenance costs and the risk of fire. The public can comment on the proposal for 60 days, and local agencies would have 18 months to adopt smoke-free policies.
What’s wrong with having two mommies? A married Utah same-sex couple with two biological children took on a 1-year-old foster child in August — but yesterday a judge ruled she can no longer live with them, saying kids with gay parents are disadvantaged. The couple believes the judge is imposing his religious beliefs on the case, while Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he doesn’t condone activism from the bench and Hillary Clinton tweeted disapproval of the decision — which is under review, but will take effect in a week unless it’s stopped.
Cash may not be king for long. The computing giant is in talks with American banks about adding personal transfers to Apple Pay, enabling folks to pay one another via their phones, rather than with cash or checks. This would pit the iPhone maker against Silicon Valley firms like Square and PayPal’s Venmo, which offer similar payment solutions that let friends pitch in together for dinner or rent. These services are popular among millennials, and with Apple Pay joining the party, they might help everyone phone it in.
Earthquake prompts tsunami alert in Japan. (BBC)
Putin orders doping investigation following WADA report. (BBC)
Paris climate deal will not be legally binding. (FT) sub
FIFA approves five presidential candidates. (DW)
Black administrator to be interim head of University of Missouri systems. (ABC)
Mormon “group resignation” planned over ban on LGBT family baptisms. (Washington Post)
Indianapolis pastor’s wife dies after home invasion shooting. (USA Today)
Dozens killed in southern Beirut blasts. (NYT)
Can it rise from the ashes? The West African country has the highest per capita rate of cigarette consumption — averaging about 41 cancer sticks per day — according to a new study. But it’s not alone: Other developing nations are seeing cigarette consumption rise even as it falls in the West, indicative of tobacco companies finding new, more lenient markets as their old stomping grounds tighten up regulations. It’s also spelling doom for weak health care systems in poorer countries that will soon be saddled with the medical fallout.
Keep the change. Joe’s Crab Shack, an American chain of 131 seafood restaurants, is rolling out a no-tipping policy. But don’t worry about your server — waitstaff and bartenders will be getting much higher hourly wages than before, soaring from $2.13 (plus whatever customers choose to tip) to at least $14, aided by menu price increases of 12 to 15 percent. It will start as a pilot program at 18 locations, but could soon have other chains questioning the logic of making employees depend upon diners’ generosity.
Will this do the job? The popular dating app just announced that it’s launching its most-requested feature by adding work and school information to user profiles. While many already chose to display these personal details, it’s now a formalized section, with the alma mater of potential matches added to profiles, along with name, age and photos. The aim is to help folks make more informed choices about whether to swipe right. But it could make it tougher for those with sparkling personalities who lack Harvard degrees.
Don’t call her princess. Much has changed for the 59-year-old entertainer since she donned the barely-there “slave” outfit in Return of the Jedi. Now an acclaimed author and mental illness survivor making her return to film after a long absence, Fisher reveals that Leia will be addressed as “General” in The Force Awakens — part of a re-branding effort that includes retiring that famous metal bikini. When asked how young women should interpret her character’s evolution, the Hollywood icon simply said, “Never give up.”
Temper, temper! The Kings center exploded after another loss dropped Sacramento to 1-7, with the 25-year-old All-Star reportedly pitching a profanity-laced tirade at George Karl, the team’s first-year coach. He later apologized, but Karl demanded Cousins be suspended … and was rebuffed by management. Analysts say this likely means an early exit for Sacramento’s coach, who can walk away with $11.5 million. Owner Vivek Ranadive reportedly wants Kentucky University coach John Calipari, who he hopes can bring a winning calm to his troubled franchise.