It has begun, but where will it end? A U.S.-led air coalition struck Islamic State targets in Syria, with reported bombings in the militants’ stronghold of Raqqa. Several Arab countries joined the operation, but that fragile alliance may already be threatened by today’s downing of a Syrian government jet by Israel. It’s also unclear who will gain control of any Syrian territory vacated by IS, and without ground troops, some fear the campaign will play right into President Bashar al-Assad’s hands.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Uncle Sam’s exploring tax frontiers. The Treasury Department is narrowing the “inversions” loophole that allows American firms to avoid taxes by merging with a foreign company and relocating overseas. New regulations include provisions requiring U.S. companies to own less than 80 percent of the merged firm. They also negate the effect of “hopscotch loans” from one company to another, which have helped save corporations tens of billions of dollars, showing there are limits for tax dodgers.
Who would arrest a man in a polar bear suit? New York City authorities weren’t disarmed by the costume or the man’s chanting colleagues, 100 of whom were arrested yesterday for blocking streets in NYC’s financial hub. Hundreds, many dressed in blue to resemble a wave of water, stopped traffic near the New York Stock Exchange in a bid to highlight corporate America’s contribution to global warming. It followed Sunday’s 300,000-strong march and came just before today’s climate summit.
In predicting trends, it’s still on the money. Apple impressed even the most conservative of analysts with weekend sales of the hotly anticipated iPhone 6, topping 10 million units — a million more than last year’s iPhone 5 release. While the sales reflect demand for the bigger-than-ever iPhone screens, they were also limited by production. Some customers were told to wait two months for shipment, and Asian regulators have not yet given Apple the go-ahead to launch in China.
Islamic State-affiliated group kidnaps Frenchman in Algeria. (France 24)
Israeli troops kill two kidnapping suspects in shootout. (AFP)
China’s banks set to relax mortgage rates. (FT) sub
White House intruder ‘had 800 rounds of ammo and machete.’ (BBC)
China sentences Uighur scholar to life. (NYT)
Lonesome George, the last-known Galapagos tortoise of his species, died in 2012. But now an Ecuadorian ministry and the Galapagos Islands are fighting over where to put his preserved corpse, currently on display in New York. George was born on Ecuador’s mainland in 1910, so environment ministry officials think the Galapagos — where the 165-pound tortoise lived his final 40 years — should settle for a bronze facsimile. His final resting place remains uncertain, but it’s clear George will never be left alone again.
Charlo Greene’s television career just went up in smoke. The Anchorage TV reporter profanely quit her job on the air to draw attention to her cause: marijuana legalization. She revealed herself to be the owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club before declaring: “And as for this job … f—k it. I quit.” She’s now pouring her energy into promoting Alaska’s November vote on legalizing weed. Greene’s reporting days may be over, but her future as a cannabis campaigner is firing up.
Imprisoned former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega is suing Activision Blizzard Inc. for making him a villain in “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.” The game damages his image without compensation, he contends. But the firm’s big-gun attorney, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is fighting back. He filed yesterday for dismissal, arguing Noriega was “attacking the freedom of speech rights of an American company.” And lets face it, the ex-drug-trafficking dictator didn’t have much of a reputation to uphold.
A woman’s place … is apparently not in film. Despite successes like the Hunger Games series, women are still woefully underrepresented on the Silver Screen. They landed just 23 percent of leading roles and 31 percent of all speaking roles between 2010 and 2013. It may sound very last century, but among 600 top-grossing domestic films between 2007 and 2013, the proportion of female speaking roles was a mere 28-33 percent, little improved from the 25 percent of the late 1940s.
It’s not cricket, but it’s getting there. Baseball games have become so lengthy that they’re starting to resemble their overseas cousins, which last for days. Now, the MLB has stepped up and impaneled officials to speed things up. The culprits? Pitchers and batters engaged in stalling psychological warfare, long between-inning commercials and managers’ innumerable personnel changes. But league committees are also known for going extra innings, especially when faced with such a sticky wicket.