As Britain’s parliament prepares to vote on joining the U.S.-led air campaign in Iraq, FBI officials say they have identified the masked militant — said to be British — who appeared in the beheading videos of two American journalists. Prime Minister David Cameron was defeated in last year’s vote on airstrikes in Syria, but IS’s brutality, threats against Western cities and Iraq’s permission for the strikes have all but guaranteed a victory in parliament this time around.
The Presidential Daily Brief
When Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation yesterday, the White House faced a dilemma: How to replace its leading liberal warrior? Holder’s shoes will be hard to fill after he made headlines tackling hot-button issues like counterterrorism, racial discrimination and Wall Street manipulation. Former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara are contenders, but whoever is tapped faces a confirmation gauntlet in the Senate, particularly if Republicans prevail in November elections.
If anyone thought Ferguson would return to business as usual, they were wrong. Thomas Jackson, the town’s chief of police, apologized yesterday to the family of dead teenager Michael Brown, but his statement was immediately followed by scuffles, arrests and a standoff between officers and protesters outside the police station. Meanwhile, Brown’s parents are in Washington, lobbying the Justice Department to take on the investigation into their son’s death, while a grand jury deliberates on whether to indict the shooter, police officer Darren Wilson.
London’s bankers cheered when Britain’s Lord Jonathan Hill was unexpectedly appointed as European Union finance commissioner. London has many of the highest-paid bankers in Europe, and Hill is openly opposed to a controversial cap on bankers’ bonuses. But now European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has removed bankers’ pay from the financial commissioner’s purview, amid Green and Socialist party threats to boycott Hill’s appointment. This strengthens the EU’s chances of restricting bonuses, but it could also push Britain even closer to an EU exit.
50 killed in Chinese ‘terrorist attack’ on Sunday. (BBC)
Refugee numbers will hit 20-year high in 2014. (Al Jazeera)
In one day, three ex-firefighters die of 9/11-related conditions. (CNN)
FAA allows film companies to use commercial drones. (NYT)
McIlroy faces Mickelson on Ryder Cup’s opening day. (The Telegraph)
Charlotte, beloved Staten Island Zoo groundhog, won’t see another springtime. The unlucky rodent, who was standing in for the zoo’s famous Chuck, was manhandled and dropped by Bill “Butterfingers” de Blasio, mayor of New York. The zoo insisted that her death from acute internal injuries – a mere week after Groundhog Day – was unrelated to the incident, but new evidence (and the mayor’s opponents) say de Blasio should take the fall. It seems Gotham’s bosses are at war with the rodents: previous Mayor Mike Bloomberg called one an “SOB” after it bit him.
Miniature autonomous machines promise major changes in agriculture and medicine, according to the Harvard engineer at the forefront of microrobot research. His team works on everything from “soft” applications that interact safely with human tissue to mechanized insects. With living drones in decline, colonies of robot bees – already in production – could help with pollinating crops, gathering scientific data and search-and-rescue operations. The future of robotics may be less I, Robot and more Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
President Obama has domestic and international support for air strikes in Syria — but that doesn’t make them legal. “War” is a controversial term, and declaring war requires congressional authorization. Instead, the president is classifying his actions as counterterrorism, as authorized by a post-9/11 American law permitting the global pursuit of al-Qaida. But some legal scholars insist that since Islamic State and al-Qaida are distinct groups, the airstrikes require approval from the UN Security Council to make them legal.
Driving while texting on Google Glass is easier, but just as dangerous as with hand-held smartphones, according to the first study to track response times and distractions for glassy-eyed drivers. Texting behind the wheel doubles the chances of an accident, which is why it’s banned in 44 U.S. states. Eight states are now considering Google Glass driving bans, and the new data will no doubt fuel even more efforts to keep drivers’ heads out of the cloud.
It was a fairy tale ending straight out of Hollywood. In his final game at Yankee Stadium last night, future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter batted in the winning run, immediately allowing his teammates to mob the shortstop in celebration of his 20-year Yankees career. The 2014 season was one long farewell tour for “Captain Clutch,” with standing ovation after standing ovation, but his last night in New York was something special. His main thought during the game? “Don’t cry.”