Shaken Iraqi military forces are losing ground to al-Qaeda-linked ISIS militants. Tens of thousands of Iraqi troops have deserted as ISIS has expanded its control of the western border. As Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Baghdad to address the growing crisis, perhaps the greatest challenge facing Iraqi leaders and U.S. military advisers is what one U.S. official called the “psychological collapse” of an under-equipped Iraqi army that has been shaken by desertions and overwhelmed by the ISIS offensive.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Israeli forces have attacked Syrian military sites in response to a fatal cross-border attack that killed a 14-year-old boy in the Golan Heights. It’s not clear whether rebels or Syrian forces were behind the attack on the Israeli civilian vehicle, but Israel claims it was intentional. The country’s defense minister warned Bashar al-Assad’s regime that they’ll pay a “high price” for helping militants who harm Israel as the Jewish state grows wary of spillover violence.
Incoming U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says he won’t back reauthorizing the U.S. Import-Export Bank’s charter this fall, noting that the private sector can fill the void. The move is likely to exacerbate tensions between business leaders and Republicans, who see the bank’s loans to overseas entities buying U.S. products as corporate welfare. McCarthy was one of 147 House Republicans who supported the charter in 2012, but he’s facing pressure now to tow the party line.
Factory activity in China has increased for the first time this year, signaling that the nation’s economic slowdown may be stabilizing. The HSBC purchasing manager’s index (PMI), a key gauge of China’s manufacturing sector, rose to a seven-month high of 50.8, raising hopes that the sector may be expanding in response to mini-stimulus projects by the government. The news boosted Asian stocks and the Australian dollar today in early trading. NYT , Reuters
Bergdahl begins outpatient treatment. (NYT)
Canada recaptures helicopter prison escapees. (CBC)
MH370 pilot is ‘chief suspect’ as search area switches. (CNN)
Poll shows incumbent Aziz winning Mauritanian presidency. (DW)
Rand Paul: I wouldn’t send my kid to Iraq. (CNN)
The pontiff continues to throw caution to the wind when it comes to his safety. After ditching his bulletproof Popemobile last week, he is now taking on the Mafia, excommunicating its members for practicing the “adoration of evil.” During his trip to Calabria, the mob’s backyard, Pope Francis launched the strongest church attack on organized crime in two decades, blasting a Mafia hit earlier this year that killed a three-year-old boy. Many Mafioso consider themselves devout Catholics and attend church regularly.
Doctors have long warned patients to avoid stress for heart health without fully understanding the link between the two. But they’ve now discovered that stress can cause overproduction of disease-fighting white blood cells that can clog arteries and restrict blood flow, triggering clots, heart attacks and strokes. Harvard scientists studied hospital medical residents and discovered the stress of their work activated bone marrow stem cells, which triggered overproduction of white blood cells.
Lifeboat and helicopter crews responded to a report of a plane crash in the seas off New Zealand and rescued a … Google Wi-Fi balloon. The Internet giant launched 30 helium-filled “Project Loon” balloons into the stratosphere from New Zealand last year to transmit Wi-Fi signals to people in remote areas. Google plans to eventually have some 400 balloons circling the globe, but first it must reimburse the crews who located the one that got away.
SarooBrierleystepped on a train by himself at age five and inadvertently changed his life forever, traveling thousands of miles from his home and eventually ending up being adopted by an Australian family. Twenty five years later, using satellite images on Google Earth, Brierleyexplored Indian train tracks until he found landscapes from childhood memories that eventually led him back to his family. His incredible trip is documented in his book A Long Way Home .
U.S. team captain Clint Dempsey greeted Cristiano Ronaldo’s toothy grin on the soccer pitch last night with a scowl of determination before bullying his team’s way to a 2-1 lead. Victory looked like it was for the taking, but in the final minute a Ronaldo cross met a teammate’s head, shaking the net behind goalie Tim Howard. The draw means the U.S. must now beat or tie with Germany to ensure advancement from the group stage.