The president is sending 300 military advisers to the country to address the growing sectarian violence between Sunni militants and the Shiite majority. Obama says he will also not shy away from airstrikes against Sunni rebels if Iraq continues down the path towards Syria-like civil unrest. U.S. leaders are pushing for the formation of a multisectarian government to ease tensions, but they concede that besieged Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki might remain at the helm.
The Presidential Daily Brief
House Republicans have elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California to replace Eric Cantor as majority leader. Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise will take over McCarthy’s old job as majority whip. A former deli owner, McCarthy is known more for his people skills than his politics and is expected to empower those representatives, particularly from the south, who felt marginalized by Cantor. Greater autonomy could help people like Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling of Texas wield more influence over export and spending policy debates.
A bidding war has begun for control of the energy assets of French rail and power firm Alstom. Siemens and Mitsubishi are raising their joint cash offer to just over $11 billion, valuing the French firm’s energy business at nearly $20 billion. The move is an attempt to outdo General Electric, whose CEO is meeting today with President Francois Hollande to try and secure a deal. Hollande is concerned a takeover could lead to job losses.
The number of displaced people worldwide has surpassed 51 million. The UN’s refugee agency reports that six million more were displaced in 2013 than in 2012, largely as a result of Syria’s civil war, but other conflicts have also contributed to the mass displacement. Antonio Guterres, head of the agency, wants developed countries to help lift the burden from the poorer nations who bear the brunt of the refugee inflows but notes that “no humanitarian response” can solve the crisis.
Up to 75 U.S. scientists may have been exposed to live anthrax in CDC labs. (France 24)
Merkel, Hollande push Putin to convince separatists to lay down arms. (DW)
Five exonerated in 1989 Central Park jogger case to settle for $40 million. (NYT)
Missing Malaysian plane search heads south. (Al Jazeera)
China ignores protests, moves oil rig closer to Vietnam. (SCMP)
Authorities in Iceland got an earful over plans to build a road that disturbed an elf habitat. We’re not talking green pointy ears and fairy dust: Many Icelanders believe in the existence of Huldufolk, who are the same size as people just invisible. Luckily, a “mediator” visited the 12-foot-high lava rock to discuss the matter, and the elves generously agreed to allow the roadworks so long as the rock is carefully removed and placed elsewhere.
Controversy has finally caught up with the hip fashion label’s CEO and founder Dov Charney, who was forced out by his board yesterday for alleged misconduct. An advocate of immigration reform and better wages, Charney was better known for his colorful personal life, which rivaled the company’s sexy and edgy branding. The brand had previously supported Charney but has changed course in a bid to stay hip and revive share prices.
Your pug may have always wanted a tattoo, but New York lawmakers are putting ink to a law to forbid it. A bill prohibiting tattoos and “unnecessary body modification” of animals passed the state legislature with bipartisan support and is expected to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. While New Yorkers are no longer welcome to render their cats gothic kittens, “cattoos” on humans are all the rage, making tattoo fans purr.
Gerry Goffin, writer of “One Fine Day” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” died of natural causes on Thursday in Los Angeles. He wrote most of his biggest hits with first wife Carole King, and together they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Goffin was the lyricist, and King composed the ballads on piano for dance hits like the “The Loco-Motion.” News of his death prompted King to pay tribute to her first love’s creativity.
Wayne Rooney scored his first-ever World Cup goal last night, but England fans were left crying into their pints at the final whistle. Uruguay’s Luis Suarez torched them with two goals, spelling England’s second loss in five days, and now Roy Hodgson’s squad must pray for a miracle. To escape the group stage, England needs Italy to beat Costa Rica today and defeat Uruguay later, which means Rooney and his colleagues should probably start packing.