Gaza is on a “knife-edge” of full-blown war, cautions United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon. At least 60 Palestinians have been killed amid bombardments across Gaza, including Palestinian rockets coming dangerously close to Israel’s suspected nuclear weapons facility. Ban will address the Security Council today as Israeli President Shimon Peres prepares for a ground offensive he says may begin “quite soon.” Israel’s last ground incursion into Gaza in 2009 resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting reveal plans to stop buying bonds, provided the economy stays on track. The Fed has been tapering its asset purchases — part of its strategy to boost the economy — by $10 billion every meeting this year. The purchases have held down long-term interest rates, spurring home buying and factory investment. But when quantitative easing ends, the Fed will have only one major tool for controlling inflationary pressures: higher interest rates.
The president wants Congress to approve a $3.7 billion package to address the humanitarian crisis caused by an influx of thousands of immigrant children. But he’s refusing to visit the Texas border area where the kids are being held as he’s “not interested in photo ops.” Obama did meet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and agrees with the Republican’s demands for stronger border patrols, but noted that most requests he gets are “suggestions…already embodied in legislation I’ve sent to Congress.”
Computer geeks try accessing U.S. government networks almost daily, but few are as successful as the Chinese hackers who brazenly busted into the computer networks of the Office of Personnel Management in March. Their apparent goal? To access files of thousands of federal workers with top-security clearance. OPM’s systems house highly personal information for all federal employees, including financial data linked to security clearances. The breach was blocked, but it’s unclear how far the hackers got before being detected.
German officials investigate second possible U.S. spy. (DW)
Chinese exports grow on back of U.S. demand. (WSJ)
Iraq tells UN terrorists have seized nuclear materials. (Reuters)
Argentina, Germany progress to World Cup final. (CNN)
Cops say Texas dad killed four children, two adults. (ABC)
Santa Cruz city police say high-end prostitute Alix Catherine Tichleman injected Google exec Forrest Timothy Hayes with heroin and left him to die. Hayes, 51, was found dead on his yacht last November. The 26-year-old self-proclaimed model and writer is charged with manslaughter, prostitution, destroying evidence and moving heroin across county lines. On Facebook last month, Tichleman reportedly posted that she enjoyed talking “with someone about killing sprees and murdering people in cold blood.” Police now plan to talk to her about a similar death in another state.
Can the actor’s estate use his nickname to peddle bourbon? The elite North Carolina university says no and has filed an objection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, seeking to “prevent tarnishment of its brand.” The estate, which wants to use “Duke” and Wayne’s likeness on the bourbon, is suing to safeguard its use of the name. The Duke family, whose generous endowment still funds the university, made its fortune in tobacco, but perhaps being tied to whiskey and cigarettes is a bridge too far for any school.
Virginia may be for lovers, but the state doesn’t take kindly to explicit “sexting.” A 17-year-old boy in Manassas City has been charged with two counts of child pornography for allegedly sexting his girlfriend, 15, a video of his penis. The teen not only faces jail time and inclusion in a sex offenders database but also a warrant asking him to flash his erect member for police snapshots at a local hospital.
If you’re afraid of spiders, look away. A 410-million-year-old arachnid is crawling back to life, thanks to its well-preserved fossilized remains and a bit of computer magic. The creature’s joints and limbs have remained intact, allowing scientists to digitally recreate its movement. Known as a Trigonotarbid, the prehistoric spider-like species was one of Earth’s early predators. The animation highlights the 3D visualization of fossils and will no doubt fuel more than a few nightmares.
Bill Hillman, the American co-author of How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona, ironically was gored in the leg during Wednesday’s run and is recovering in hospital. A colleague says he was pushed. Since Hemingway wrote about Pamplona’s fiesta — which celebrates Saint Fermin and dates to the 14th century — tourists have flocked each year to participate in the half-mile charge. Hillman will be fine, but his book could probably use a new chapter.
A jury has awarded San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, beaten into a coma outside Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles by two local fans in 2011, $18 million. The Dodgers were found liable for 25 percent of Stow’s injuries, plus the cost of medical bills and lost earnings, estimated around $14 million. The family is relieved by the ruling, but it’s little consolation to Stow, who suffered lifelong brain damage as a result of the attack.