Thirteen years after nearly 3,000 people died in the September 11 attacks, Obama is poised to unleash “relentless” U.S. military action to root out murderous fanatics in the Middle East. The president said last night that the U.S. will launch a “campaign of airstrikes” in Iraq and Syria to destroy Islamic State militants. He reassured Americans that U.S. combat troops would not get dragged into another ground war, while promising his targets: “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
Demonstrators targeted the daily commute near Ferguson, Missouri, attempting to block four lanes of Interstate 70 for four and a half hours. That’s how long Michael Brown’s body lay dead on the street last month after a white cop fatally shot the unarmed black youth. Authorities showed little patience for yesterday’s gathering and made 35 arrests. Even some black leaders suggested the civil disobedience was misplaced, but organizers argued that disrupting commuters’ afternoons was a “small sacrifice” in the quest for justice.
The deteriorating ozone layer that shields us from cancer-causing ultraviolet light is showing signs of recovery, according to a new UN report. The layer is thickening, and the ozone hole that appears over Antarctica has stopped growing larger each year. Scientists credit the change to global action that began in 1987 to phase out man-made gases that destroy the ozone. An even sunnier view? Similar determination could help counter climate change, they suggest.
U.S. shoppers may be unfamiliar with China’s version of eBay, Amazon and PayPal combined, but that’s likely to change when the firm hits the New York Stock Exchange, probably late next week. Alibaba, valued at $155 billion — bigger than eBay and rivaling Amazon — claims to be the world’s leading online marketplace and could generate a whopping $24 billion when trading begins. Such an IPO would be the largest in history, making Alibaba virtually impossible for Americans to keep ignoring.
Judge clears Oscar Pistorius of murder charges. (BBC)
Five million email passwords leaked online. (Fusion)
Scottish banks reveal plans to leave for England if independence prevails. (WSJ)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford hospitalized with tumor. (CBC)
Giant Bond villain Richard Kiel dies at age 74. (ABC)
Readings from ground-piercing radar near the circle of megaliths on England’s Salisbury Plain reveal the complex was 12 times its current size, including at least 17 other Neolithic shrines. The images reveal traces of a “super henge” of up to 60 huge stones or pillars, a timber building and two large prehistoric pits. But the mystery of how the site was used remains and is now even more monumental.
Ready to take the leap? Humans are revving for an evolutionary jump as big as the one from ape to human, according to a scientist at the Global Brain Institute. Life expectancy could catapult to 120 years by 2050 alongside delayed maturation and reproduction, thanks to technological advances. That gives us more time to flex our intellectual muscles, says anthropology researcher Cadell Last. But as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy warns, coming down from the trees may have been our first mistake.
They’re not always after me Lucky Charms, but they covet those Pop-Tarts. Americans are slowly turning their backs on cold cereal in favor of healthier choices, with sales expected to be down this year by $4.2 billion since 2000, to a still-dominant $9.7 billion. But sales of the sugary pastry — which turns 50 on Sunday — have risen steadily for three decades, topping $800 million last year. It seems some simply can’t resist the rush of the rectangular toaster treats.
Playing Buddhist music helps rice crops grow, farmers in China’s eastern Fujian Province claim. Production in Liangshan village reportedly increased 15 percent after farmers pimped their paddies with 500 mantra-playing speakers. The tuned-in fields also produced larger grains, while the music-deprived crop suffered from pests. China Agricultural University scientists insist that soothing, rhythmic sound waves can stimulate pores on leaves to absorb more sunlight. But a British researcher sings a different tune, demonstrating that Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” works just as well.
Ray Rice may not be alone in the unemployment line. On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acted shocked over an unearthed video of Rice knocking out his fiancee. But a report yesterday said the footage was sent to NFL headquarters in April, and voicemail left for authorities reportedly confirms the league got it. The NFL denies any knowledge of the delivery, and Goodell has hired a ringer to look into the matter, but the National Organization for Women is calling for his head.