Any remaining hopes of bipartisan cooperation are in tatters after the House approved a bill allowing Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama. The 225-201 vote marks the first time the legislature has approved such a lawsuit. Republicans allege that the president has overstepped his constitutional powers by deliberately delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s unpopular employer mandate. No Democrat voted for the bill, which was described as a waste of time and money, while Obama angrily branded the move a “stunt.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
Israel is coming under increasing international pressure following the shelling of a UN school in Gaza, where several thousand Palestinians were sheltering from the ongoing bombardment. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon described the attack — which killed up to 20 people — as “outrageous and unjustifiable,” while his colleagues insisted that Israel had been repeatedly notified of the school’s location. The White House strongly condemned the attack, but critics have highlighted that just hours later the Pentagon announced that it had restocked Israel’s dwindling weapons supply.
The Peace Corps is lifting some 340 American volunteers from three West African countries amid fears that the worst-ever Ebola outbreak will spread to Western nations. Airport staff and doctors in several countries are on the alert for travelers exhibiting symptoms. Experts do not expect a global crisis, but many have highlighted that the severity of this outbreak, which has killed nearly 700 people in West Africa, demonstrates that the international community is seriously under-prepared for potential epidemics.
The country’s economic growth is surging back with an unexpectedly high second-quarter growth rate of four percent. The bounce is bound to effect mid-term elections, depriving the GOP of a stagnant economy with which to batter Democrats — though it won’t be strong enough to crow about either. It also revives the debate on when the Fed should boost interest rates to quell the risk of inflation.
Argentina defaults for second time in 13 years. (BBC)
Bank of America fined $1.27 billion over “hustle” mortgages. (Reuters)
Landslide buries Indian village. (ABC)
U.S. attorney threatens to investigate Cuomo administration. (NYT)
9/11 first responders suffer increased cancer rates. (CNN)
A Satanic denomination is seeking religious exemption from “informed consent” laws under the Supreme Court’s controversial Hobby Lobby ruling. While the ruling exempted Christian employers from covering certain contraceptives, the Satanic Temple is turning the ideological tables, arguing that informed consent materials — which doctors in some states are required to provide before a woman can get an abortion — are “scientifically unfounded” and, as such, violate the denomination’s teachings. The Satanists are probably trolling, but do they have a point?
A simple blood test could predict the risk of suicide triggered by stress, scientists report. Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered how methyl chemicals in the body affect the gene SKA2, which impacts how the brain reacts to stress hormones. If the gene’s function is impaired, a stressed individual can’t shut down the effect of the stress hormone and could be at greater risk of suicide. The genetic marker could facilitate better-targeted suicide prevention strategies.
Think nine months is tough? Scientists have recorded one octopus watching over her eggs for an astonishing 53 months, setting the record for the planet’s longest brooding stint. Researchers believe this is a typical brooding period for the Graneledone boreopacifica species, although deep-sea observation is extremely challenging. Sadly, the hardy females protect their eggs even as they waste away themselves. The octopus hatchlings are born more developed than any of their cousins, but the mother is likely to die as a result of her devotion.
The future of The Big Bang Theory is currently up in the air as contract negotiations have forced the postponement of season eight production, which was due to begin this week. Several stars, including Jim Parsons, who plays physicist and cult hero Sheldon Cooper, have yet to agree on new salaries with CBS. The setback shouldn’t affect the new series’ planned premiere date in September, but as rumors abound about possible changes, fans have expressed concern about the actors’ long-term commitment to the show.
It’s typical to receive a nice send-off from opponents at the end of a Hall of Fame career, but it doesn’t usually come from a former U.S. president. Yankees legend Derek Jeter enjoyed that honor Wednesday, when George W. Bush gave the shortstop a signed photo before his final game against the Texas Rangers. Bush recounted how Jeter advised him on a ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks: “Don’t bounce it,” he cautioned. “They’ll boo you.”