It’s a costly mission. The opening months of Russia’s airstrikes aiding Syria’s embattled government have killed at least 200 civilians and have used banned cluster bombs, a new report by Amnesty International has determined. Some attacks “directly attacked civilians” in areas devoid of military targets, an AI director said, and “may amount to war crimes.” Russia’s Defense Ministry said the report was full of “trite cliches” and “fake information” and denied the use of cluster bombs, but the result will likely amplify concerns over whether the Kremlin’s really targeting “terrorists,” as it claims.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re not in the Happiest Place on Earth. Approved to travel to Los Angeles, the family of two adults and nine children were nonetheless taken aside by U.S. authorities and kept off their flight from Gatwick Airport in London last week. The incident has raised the ire of British MP Stella Creasy, who says American officials won’t explain the move, which reportedly cost the family more than $13,000 in unrefunded air fare. Critics say it’s a byproduct of xenophobic Trumpisms, and Prime Minister David Cameron is said to be pondering a response.
They’re optimistic. After fighting against ISIS militants since Monday in the capital of Anbar province, Iraqi military officials said they expect to recapture the city within days. If it’s taken back, it’ll offer hope to the Iraqi army that they can go after other Iraqi cities held as part of ISIS’s so-called caliphate — Mosul and Fallujah — as well as vindicate Barack Obama’s strategy of relying on local troops backed up by U.S. airstrikes, rather than American soldiers, to tackle the militant group.
She’s not walking it back. In Saturday’s debate, Hillary Clinton claimed that videos of Donald Trump are a powerful recruiting tool for ISIS — a statement that got her dinged in the media by reporters who said it simply wasn’t true. Now — perhaps in response to what her campaign called Trump’s “degrading” statements about Mrs. Clinton getting “schlonged” in the 2008 primaries — she’s saying she meant that Trump’s speeches are played on Arabic television and encourage anti-American sentiment. Trump’s demanding an apology, but so far her campaign says “Hell no.”
What a difference two years makes. In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Greek legislation was discriminatory — because while the nation allowed civil partnerships, they were limited to straight couples. But last night the country’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to extend the right to same-sex couples, as part of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ slate of social reforms. The communist and far-right parties and the Orthodox Church opposed the legislation, but were unable to block it in Parliament — meaning same-sex couples can be legally bound early next year.
Maybe wait until after Christmas. Amazon is the shipping company’s biggest customer, and one that’s allowed it to become a behemoth by getting packages to customers’ doors with speed and reliability. But more packages means shipping costs have risen to 11.7 percent of revenue, and executives report that Amazon is looking for ways to branch out — like its own trucks, couriers, and aircraft, not to mention the possibility of drone deliveries. If it breaks away entirely, UPS will lose $1 billion in business — and gain a formidable competitor.
Explosion aboard jet kills cleaning person at Istanbul Airport. (WSJ) sub
French man who beheaded boss kills self in jail. (AP)
Taliban cements grip over key town in southern Afghanistan. (BBC)
Sultan of Brunei bans Christmas celebrations. (Daily Beast)
New Zealand judge: Kim Dotcom can be extradited to the U.S. (USA Today)
But will the huddled masses ever show up? Europe’s fourth-poorest country has a history of kindness to refugees — it welcomed 375,000 fleeing Kosovars in 1999 — and as neighboring Macedonia’s borders get tighter, displaced people are expected to start flooding in. Though Albania has plans in place for registering, feeding and housing migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and North Africa, they also worry that a huge influx of people could boost the human trafficking trade. Meanwhile, refugees may try to skip over Albania to apply for asylum in more desirable nations.
It’s an unforgettable concept. A select group of users are testing out a system that would allow them to access services like Gmail without the need for a secure password. Instead, they authenticate accounts via a text sent to their smartphones. The new system is conceptually similar to Yahoo’s Account Key, and is a shot at beefing up security as cyber-attacks get more sophisticated about passwords. Google says it’s also built in protections should someone lose their phone - and that the days of passwords like “123456” are numbered.
Call it delayed gratification. China’s inaugural moon mission has turned up a new lunar rock type — the first such discovery in nearly 40 years. The Chang’e-3 first touched down in 2013 but continues to beam data back to Earth. These samples differ from those brought back by the Apollo missions or the former Soviet Union’s Luna expedition, suggesting that the surface is more diverse than previously believed. By studying the levels of titanium in the rocks, scientists hope to better understand when oceans of magma settled and cooled on the moon’s surface.
It’s easy to make the case for this one. The Oscar winners are co-producing a series based on former FBI agent John Douglas’ 1996 book Mind Hunter, about profiling infamous serial killers. British playwright Joe Penhall is expected to pen the series. Fincher drew wide acclaim co-creating House of Cards for the streaming service, which helped usher in an era of original programming on services like Amazon and Hulu. Release dates and other details are still under wraps, but Fincher is “expected to direct” the show’s pilot.
Everyone’s invited. MVP contender Cam Newton leads a Carolina-heavy roster tapped for the NFL’s talent showcase, which is held in Hawaii each year after February’s Super Bowl. It’s the quarterback’s third selection, but five of his teammates were chosen for the first time. Arizona, New England and Seattle each earned seven player selections. Patriots QB Tom Brady received his 11th invite, the most of any active player. It’s become increasingly common to skip the exhibition game rather than risk injury — but getting picked all but guarantees bigger contracts and future endorsement deals.