How very medieval — ISIS has declared that militant-controlled areas in Syria and Iraq are now part of an Islamic “caliphate.” The militant group has changed its name to “Islamic State” and elevated its head, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to “leader for Muslims everywhere.” The next step? Apparently to conquer other nations and to forge an Islamic empire from the Mediterranean to the Gulf, instituting Sharia law throughout. In an attempt to halt the region’s backward slide, Russia has sent jets to help Iraqi troops battle for Tikrit.
The Presidential Daily Brief
President Obama is expected to nominate former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald today to head the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs. McDonald has some military experience, but it’s his management skills that have caught the president’s eye. Well, that, and the fact that he has supported Republican candidates in the past, so he’s unlikely to spark GOP complaints. Less controversy would mean more time for addressing the mismanagement and botched care-delivery allegations facing the agency.
Kim Jong-Un’s regime will try two U.S. tourists for unspecified “hostile acts.” Matthew Miller, 24, and Jeffrey Fowle, 56, were on separate private tours in the Hermit Kingdom in April. Miller was arrested after reportedly ripping up his visa and requesting asylum, and Fowle was detained because he left a Bible in his hotel. If the North Korean prosecution follows other recent cases, then the regime will likely coerce confessions from the two men and secure a guilty verdict before releasing them.
Senior executives of UK pharma giant GlaxoSmith Kline were sent a secretly filmed sex tape of the firm’s China chief just before Chinese officials launched a bribery investigation into the company last year. GSK has acknowledged the existence of the tape featuring Mark Reilly, who has been accused of bribing local hospitals to use GSK drugs. Despite its “zero tolerance” bribery policy, GSK has seen its image tarnished in China by repeated scandals, with this latest revelation sure to further damage already falling sales in the region.
High Court: Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to cover birth control if it violates business owners’ religion. (Chicago Tribune)
GM’s compensation plan for defect deaths starts at $1 million. (NYT)
British-based entertainer Rolf Harris, 84, found guilty of indecent assaults. (BBC)
Oscar Pistorius returns to murder trial following psychiatric evaluation. (BBC)
U.S. set to slap BNP Paribas with up to $9 billion in penalties. (WSJ) sub
This year’s LGBTQ Pride celebrations saw some unusual attendees among the floats and feather boas: The Boy Scouts. Last year, the 2.7 million-strong youth organization struck down a decades-old rule against gay members, enabling scouts to march in uniform with rainbow-colored bandannas this year. The Boy Scouts of America still doesn’t allow openly gay adult troop leaders, but this year’s solidarity shows that attitudes are changing, one neckerchief at a time.
A Facebook study has proven that users don’t like it when you mess with their news feeds. Facebook deliberately manipulated the feeds of 700,000 users for a week two years ago in research that established how comment feeds can be emotionally “contagious” — positive comments, for example, trigger more upbeat responses. A new report detailing the study has prompted less positive responses, from incensed users venting anger on Twitter to academics questioning Facebook’s right to involve us in psychological experiments.
Scientists believe climate change could kill off half of the world’s emperor penguin population within a century. Antarctica’s 45 known penguin colonies trek up to 80 miles over the ice to breed and catch krill and fish. The ice is melting too fast for the penguins, prompting calls for the birds to be placed on the endangered species list. Such a status won’t refreeze their too-slippery slopes, but it’s hoped that it will lead to other efforts to help the at-risk birds.
America’s beloved country star braved the muddy fields at Glastonbury, Britain’s iconic music festival, enchanting Wellie-wearing Brits with classics like ”9 to 5,” ”Jolene” and “Blue Smoke.” The 68 year old, who grew up in rural Tennessee, wore a white diamante pantsuit and sang to a 100,000-strong crowd who adoringly sang along to their favorite tunes. Dolly said the mud made her feel right at home. “I’m just a country girl, and now I feel like a rock star,” she said.
It looked as though Mexico might progress to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 28 years, but two late Dutch goals doomed El Tri. Despite Mexico’s early domination, the Netherlands equalized in the 88th minute. A few minutes later, winger Arjen Robben took a questionable dive, but drew the penalty for the Dutch. Goalkeeper Memo Ochoa guessed right, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar shot left, the net shook, and the Dutch won 2-1.