Russian soldiers, rebels and tanks entered southeastern Ukraine yesterday to rout government forces and capture Novoazovsk as the U.N. called an emergency session. Ukraine has declared it an invasion, while President Obama avoided crossing that line. But wordplay can’t obscure NATO satellite images showing Russian equipment and over 1,000 troops inside Ukraine’s borders, which represents a serious escalation. OZY’s Emily Cadei posits that it might be time for the West to make good on threats of industry-wide sanctions.
The Presidential Daily Brief
A $41.5 million federal lawsuit has been filed against the city of Ferguson, its police department and St. Louis County for civil rights violations against protesters. The current plaintiffs are the “Ferguson Five,” who were arrested, beaten, tear-gassed or shot with rubber bullets during demonstrations against the police shooting of Michael Brown. But Black Lawyers for Justice, which filed the suit, believes that other arrested protesters will join the plaintiffs. The group’s president described authorities as “completely out of control.”
U.S. bank lending was stronger in the second quarter than at any time since lenders pulled the global economy into a nose-dive in 2008. Banks’ loan and lease balances rose to $8.11 trillion, representing a 2.3 percent increase over the last quarter. While exciting for those looking for loans, the improvement was in part achieved through cutting financial sector jobs and cash reserves. Banks say no worries; they have fewer risky loans on the books and thus less need for safety nets.
The White House plans no immediate escalation of military action against Islamic State militants in Syria, according to President Obama. “We don’t have a strategy yet,” he said, while acknowledging he has asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to explore military strike options. The aim was to calm the media which, he says, has extrapolated too much from that decision. But Republicans jumped on the “no strategy” assertion, prompting Obama’s spokespeople to clarify that a clear strategy does exist for Iraq, just not Syria. Yet.
Malaysia Airlines axes 6,000 staff in $1.9B overhaul. (USA Today)
Syrian refugees top three million mark. (BBC)
Pilot killed in Mass. fighter jet crash. (Boston Globe)
Pakistan’s army steps in amid political crisis. (Reuters)
Joan Rivers stable yet critical after cardiac arrest. (E! Online)
It’s the celebrity reveal of the decade: Hello Kitty is not a cat. According to Japanese toymaker Sanrio, the feline icon is actually a British schoolgirl, Kitty White, who lives outside of London, loves apple pie and has a cat. The company has shared the intricate backstory for the character, developed 40 years ago to play to the Japanese fascination with British culture. The question is, will Kitty’s unexpected species-change impact her annual revenue of $759 million?
Children spend so much time in front of electronic screens that it numbs their ability to read emotions on human faces, new research has found. Sixth-graders barred from technology for five days at an outdoor camp were significantly better at reading emotions than those who had regular access to phones, TV, and computers, UCLA scientists discovered. The lead researcher warned that it’s a “wake-up call” for schools, which may be too eager to put iPads in students’ hands without carefully considering social costs.
The discovery of an Islamic State laptop containing instructions on how to create a bubonic plague weapon has raised fears that the extremist group is planning a globally significant attack. Recovered by a moderate Syrian rebel faction, the laptop — appearing to belong to a Tunisian science scholar — holds 35,000 files on jihadi ideology, weapons and tactics. But experts doubt IS could pull off such an attack; their efforts mirror those of al-Qaida, which consistently tried and failed to develop bioterrorism capability.
Foreign Policy (reg)
Martin Scorsese will reportedly mark the Ramones’ 40th anniversary with a hotly-anticipated biopic of the band. The estate of the one-chord punk godfathers has several anniversary projects in the works, but details on a film remained unconfirmed until recently. Scorsese, celebrated for his Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones movies, has even been spoofed for his rockumentary style. And with never-before-seen footage waiting in the wings, the flick might help fans to remember rock ’n’ roll radio once more.
Marijuana helped clarify football’s priorities, so to speak. On Tuesday, the league was publicly slammed for a a yearlong pot violation suspension, having given a two-game wrist slap to a player videotaped dragging his unconscious fiancée after a fight. Yesterday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he erred in being lenient in Baltimore running back Ray Rice’s domestic violence case and announced a new abuse policy. A first offense now costs six months without pay. Do it again, and you’re banned for life.