The justices ruled yesterday that family-owned firms don’t have to cover birth control if it violates the owners’ religion, exempting them from Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage requirement. The 5-4 ruling will probably push the government into providing the birth control itself, but it also means business owners will start challenging other laws they believe violate religious freedom. The decision left many women upset, including dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who noted the court “has ventured into a minefield.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
President Obama may anticipate greater U.S. involvement in Iraq. He’s sending an additional 300 troops to protect U.S. embassy personnel and citizens in Baghdad, bringing the total number of troops to 750. White House officials insist the troops are not a “signal of mission creep,” but with Iraqi politicians expected to call for a new, Sunni-friendlier government in a meeting today, it’s possible Obama is gearing up to help Iraq quash ISIS militants.
Israel’s Air Force struck 34 suspected Hamas sites in Gaza shortly after the bodies of three kidnapped teens were found near Hebron, further increasing tensions in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that “Hamas will pay” for their slayings, but Israeli officials said the airstrikes were in response to rockets being launched into Israel from Gaza. Hamas denies the allegations, claiming that Israel is using the situation as a pretext for military action.
France’s largest bank agreed to the record-breaking fine yesterday after pleading guilty to violating U.S. sanctions against Sudan. BNP plans to weather the storm, absorbing the penalty and adapting future dividends to match its 2013 payout of $2 per share, down from the expected $2.75. The next potential targets of the crackdown on rogue banks? France’s Credit Agricole and Societe Generale, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup’s Banamex in Mexico.
Former French president Sarkozy held for questioning in corruption probe. (France 24)
GM recalls 8.5 million vehicles after three deaths. (WSJ) sub
Ukraine launches full-scale military operation in the east. (BBC)
Shootout between Mexican Army, gunmen kills 22. (LA Times)
Hong Kong holds massive pro-democracy march. (NYT)
Unwanted babies are going down the “hatch” in China. A new drop-off room at government-run Jinan Orphanage in eastern China opened on June 1. In just 11 days, 106 unwanted children — all with medical issues — were left at the baby hatch. In one case, a six-year-old girl was pushed out of a car with money and a note. One of 32 hatches nationwide, it has proven so popular that the orphanage is now restricting drop-offs to locals only.
Millions of tons of plastic end up in the ocean, but it seems that 99 percent of it is missing. A global research project fished for plastic in the five major ocean gyres, and their nets came up near empty. The lead researcher suspects marine animals are eating the missing plastics, which means they could be contaminating our food chain. The best-case scenario? The animals are “puking or pooping it out” and it is sinking into the ocean floor.
Landing a job at one pub in Ireland could be just a click away. Sober Lane is only considering applications sent via Snapchat, the app that sends impermanent pictures and videos. Pub owner Ernest Cantillon proposed the idea last Friday, tweeting “make an impression if you want a profession,” and he’s already received more than 2,000 Snapchats. Cantillon believes the brief glimpses can adequately inform him whether applicants are suitably creative for the job, making hiring decisions a snap.
Spain hopes to complete Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished surrealist masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, by 2026 to commemorate the centenary of his death. But students at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands can’t wait. This winter, they plan to construct a 123-foot tall replica — a quarter the size of the original — out of blocks of Pykrete, a strong mixture of ice and wood pulp. While their Finland-based project will beat Spain to the finish, the summer thaw will prevent a lasting monument.
Long shot Algeria would’ve loved a chance to play former colonizer France, but they needed to beat Germany for the honor. The Fennecs held their own in a scoreless tie against the favored Germans until two minutes into extra time, when Chelsea winger Andre Schurrle blindly heel-flicked the ball past the Algerian goalkeeper. Algeria fought back, but Mesut Ozil issued a heartbreaking second goal for Germany that proved decisive in its 2-1 victory.