Is the United States re-starting its Iraq War? It’s poised to go after Islamic State militants in Iraq if they advance on Baghdad or the Kurdish capital of Irbil, where U.S. personnel are stationed. President Obama authorized limited airstrikes and humanitarian efforts — food and water drops to some 50,000 stranded Yazidis — pledging to help “avert a massacre.” But he also promised to avoid another ground war — a relief to all those haunted by the last pass.
The Presidential Daily Brief
That didn’t last long. Hamas rejected an extension of the 72-hour Gaza ceasefire that expired this morning, and Israel reported 18 incoming rockets shortly thereafter before responding in kind with airstrikes. Israeli leaders had offered to extend the truce “indefinitely” for talks, but Hamas balked because Israel refused to lift its eight-year blockade of Gaza and release some 125 prisoners. Unless Israel complies with its demands, Hamas claims it’s ready to fight a “long war.”
Lend a helping hand or else. That’s the message from the Department of Justice to big banks, which have been told to pour billions into financially hard-hit areas if they hope to settle claims of mortgage abuse. Bank of America has agreed to a settlement that includes $7 billion in such aid, and seven other banks are still being investigated. Authorities want greater relief for poor neighborhoods owing to criticism that buyers of pricier homes have gotten too much of the allocated relief.
It’s been losing altitude fast in the wake of two air disasters, prompting a proposal by Malaysia’s state investment company to take the airline private. Khazanah Nasional Bhd. wants to take Malaysia Airlines off the stock exchange and buy out minority shareholders as it restructures the firm in a bid to salvage it following the jetliner disasters and three years’ worth of falling profits. Shares were suspended for the announcement, and the airline has said it will consider the proposal.
WHO declares global emergency over Ebola outbreak. (CNN)
Ukraine leader’s office targeted by Russian cyber attack. (FT) sub
Iselle weakens to tropical storm as it approaches Hawaii. (ABC)
Senator facing plagiarism charge drops out of race. (Billings Gazette)
Jonestown remains found in funeral home. (AP)
Incoming! Concern flared over the sanctity of a famous Yellowstone hot spring when a photo-snapping drone crashed into it and sank. A tourist was reportedly trying to capture aerial views when the crippled drone took a dive into the Grand Prismatic Spring, possibly damaging it — though trying to retrieve it could cause more harm. Drones are banned in federal parks, so the tourist — whom park authorities would like to question — may also be in a bit of hot water.
Controversy over the first-ever, all-female K2 summit has peaked. Late last month, three Nepali women climbed the 28,251-foot mountain, the world’s second-tallest and considered far more dangerous than the taller Mt. Everest. They were heralded as pioneers within the climbing community, but critics note that the women climbed with three male Sherpas. As only 18 women have ever reached the summit — one in five climbers die trying — the three ladies don’t appreciate having their feat held to the fire.
Better safe than no love from the search engine. From now on, Google searches will give a slight boost to URLs preceded by “HTTPS,” signaling web sites with the TPS safety feature for users. All other factors being equal, sites that implement the extra layer of security would rank above those transmitting in more vulnerable plaintext, the Internet giant warns. Why discriminate? To teach firms that it’s best to play it safe.
There’s fresh fodder for conspiracy theorists who believe Doors frontman Jim Morrison had help breaking on through to the other side. His 1971 Paris death was attributed to heart failure, but no autopsy was conducted. Marianne Faithful, for one, thinks her former heroin-dealing French boyfriend accidentally killed the rock star. The English singer contends that Jean de Breteuil sold Morrison drugs and that the “Love Me Two Times” legend died of an overdose because “the smack was too strong.”
King James’ castle is sparkling. Three-time All-Star Kevin Love has a deal to leave the Minnesota Timberwolves to join LeBron James and the talent-infused Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs must give up Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 draft pick, along with Anthony Bennett and a future draft pick. But the five-year, $120 million deal is far from consummated. NBA rules dictate they wait until at least August 23 to declare their Love.