U.S. warplanes will soon have clearance to strike Islamic State militants in Syria, the first time the West will directly intervene in the three-year civil war. President Obama told legislative leaders he could launch strikes without their approval, but would welcome action to “aid the overall effort.” Strategy is taking shape, but U.S. diplomats are struggling to enlist nations like Turkey and Saudi Arabia to join the effort, while avoiding moves that would strengthen Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
The Presidential Daily Brief
As predicted, Apple has splashed into the wearables market with the release of the highly-anticipated Apple Watch. The company’s first new product line since the iPad launched in 2010, it aims to transform smartwatches into something more than shrunken phones. The watch can make payments in stores, open hotel rooms and monitor users’ health. CEO Tim Cook also announced the larger iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, playing catch-up with big-screened Samsungs. Despite the hype, Apple’s share price finished down for the day.
Scott Brown has won the Republican Senate primary in New Hampshire, and is framing the November race as a referendum on national healthcare. The ex-Massachusetts senator switched states after losing to Elizabeth Warren in 2012. Having won handily, he will face Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen in the general election. Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo beat back a liberal primary rival by a narrower-than-expected margin, suggesting that the Democratic left wing may not be entirely satisfied with his performance.
All three UK party leaders are heading north today in a desperate last-ditch attempt to keep Scotland in the union. Eight days before the referendum, polls show that the outcome is too close to call. Many attribute the “Yes” campaign’s late surge to complacency by British leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who authored an emotional appeal in today’s Daily Mail. Buckingham Palace has issued a statement indicating the Queen will remain neutral after both sides’ attempts to elicit Her Majesty’s nod.
Ferguson residents speak out at packed city meeting. (ABC)
Dollar General to make hostile bid for Family Dollar. (Reuters)
South Asia flooding death toll passes 400. (Al Jazeera)
Missouri carries out eighth 2014 execution. (USA Today)
U2 launches new album with free giveaway. (NYT)
For centuries, whiskey distilleries have kept cats around to chase rodents from malt-giving grain. Thanks to advances in pest control, vermin are much less of a problem, but the mousers have been repurposed. Instead of being used as the stalwart defenders of the sour mash ingredients, the cats have become mascots in American and Scottish distilleries, chosen more for their friendliness and Instagram-ability than their predatory potential. Amid Scotland’s political upheaval, these tabbies remain paws-down favorites.
There’s a deadly war raging next door and it costs the global economy more than the conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine combined. Researchers at the Copenhagen Consensus Center say that for every person killed in civil wars, nine people are killed by domestic violence, costing the world economy a staggering $8 trillion per year. The study will be presented to the UN to help create global sustainable development goals for 2030.
Seems those “team-building” exercises aren’t as pointless as you thought. New Australian research finds shared pain or harrowing experiences build solidarity, acting as a “social glue.” If actual pain isn’t an option — or your legal department says “no” — groups can use arduous initiation rites instead. In three tests, subjects who experienced discomfort, such as maintaining an unnatural position, showed better rates of trust and willingness to help one another. So, ice blocks instead of comfy chairs in Congress?
The Holy Land has come to the heartland. Steven Salaita, fired by the University of Illinois over inflammatory criticism of Israel is asking for re-appointment and becoming a lightning rod for defenders of academic freedom. The professor of American Indian Studies defended his behavior and insisted that his treatment, driven by pressure from the institution’s donors, “should be worrying to all scholars.” University officials say such speech “promotes malice,” but Salaita partisans are rallying academia to boycott the school.
The NFL has shunned Ray Rice; now commissioner Roger Goodell might be heading for the showers after months of contradictory statements and an unconvincing mea culpa. Critics insist the episode exposed Goodell as a corporate suit more interested in lining owners’ pockets than in enforcing integrity. TMZ — the site that released the video of Rice decking his partner — now charges that officials chose not to watch the footage, suggesting that the NFL was not blindsided, but looking the other way.