We have sadly come to expect violence in the West Bank and Gaza, but Hamas rockets over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are another story. Israelis scrambled to shelters as the nation launched new airstrikes in response to the bombardment. No Israelis were killed, but the responding airstrikes reportedly claimed 23 Palestinian lives. Is a declaration of war looming? Hope for peace is fading fast as Israel prepares to mobilize up to 40,000 reservists, infantry brigades and tanks.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Relations on the Hill are toxic, so it’s no surprise that a presidential request for $3.7 billion to address an influx of young migrants crossing the U.S. border was met with GOP skepticism. Obama wants the money for detention facilities, aerial surveillance and better border patrols to respond to the surge of 52,000 children coming from Central America to Texas. The president calls it aid for an “urgent humanitarian situation,” GOP leaders say it’s a taxpayer “bailout” for the administration’s failure to enforce existing immigration laws.
Senate Democrats plan to introduce a bill to negate the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision allowing some employers to opt out of contraception insurance for religious reasons. The proposed law would prohibit companies from discriminating against female employees in health coverage guaranteed under federal law. The bill stands little chance of passing the GOP-controlled House but could still have some beneficiaries: The Democrats hoping to capitalize on women’s anger with the ruling in November’s mid-term elections.
The clampdown on banks is heating up, and the feds have Citigroup in their sights. The financial giant is reportedly set to pay a surprising $4 billion in cash to the government and another $3 billion in mortgage relief to settle allegations it defrauded investors on billions worth of mortgage securities before the financial crisis. Analysts had predicted a $1.5 billion settlement, but an increasingly aggressive Department of Justice seems determined to show global banks who’s boss.
Troops repel Al Shabab attack on Somali presidential palace. (AP)
Exit polls give Joko lead in Indonesian presidential election. (DW)
Vatican bank chief to step down after profits plunge. (BBC)
Ebola claims 25 lives in West Africa in five days. (Al-Jazeera)
Officials: Obama didn’t know about spying operation. (NYT)
Can Apollo’s healing power help children overcome the trauma of seeing his penis? A Russian politician doesn’t think so and wants the Greek god to stop baring all on the 100-ruble note. Pant-less Apollo should either cover up or be removed from the bill to comply with “anti-gay” laws protecting children from “damaging information,” said Roman Khudyakov. He suggests Apollo be replaced by a view of Crimea, because that wouldn’t be at all controversial.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to keep better track of its viruses. A scientist had a spring clean and found six forgotten vials of freeze-dried smallpox at a CDC research center in Maryland. The virus was probably dead, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that it was somehow missed when the World Health Organization scoured labs worldwide for smallpox samples following the eradication of the deadly disease in 1980. The samples will be tested and then destroyed.
Hotel rooms, dinners and gifts add up to more than just an emotional wrecking ball when it comes to illicit affairs. These torrid courtships cost a cheating spouse about $2,600, on average, a new study shows. The typical tryst lasts six months and tends to occur two years after a wedding. Most cheaters — 57 percent — were men, but only about a third of unsuspecting partners questioned the expenses. Suspicious of your spouse? Check the finances.
J.K. Rowling has posted an update on the bespectacled wizard, now aged 33. The 1,500-word article, written from the perspective of gossip columnist Rita Skeeter, is published on Rowling’s fan site Pottermore. One critic suggests the story, which obsesses over the romantic lives and physical appearance of the characters, is an attack on the British media. Others cry “marketing ploy.” Whatever the motive, fans are unlikely to ask Rowling to go Potter-less.
Tournament favorite Brazil’s hopes of winning the World Cup in front of its home fans went down in flames as the team was handed its worst ever defeat, a stunning 7-1 semifinal dismissal by Germany. Brazil was down two key players, including star Neymar, but was still expected to prevail. It wasn’t even close. Germany scored four goals in a six-minute stretch in what Nate Silver deemed the most shocking result in World Cup history.