Islamic State is knocking on Turkey’s door. The Turkish-Syrian border town of Kobane may soon fall, officials warn, as thousands flee the fighting between IS and Syrian Kurds. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has vowed to protect Turkey, noting that the military alliance “will be there if there is any spillover.” U.S.-led forces have been hitting IS targets, but air strikes aren’t working, and concerns are rising that IS may soon control a long stretch of the border.
The Presidential Daily Brief
A travel ban won’t fly, but President Obama has announced additional passenger screenings to detect Ebola at U.S. and African airports. Some Republicans had called for a ban on travel to affected African nations in the wake of the first Ebola diagnosis on U.S. soil last week. Greater security measures are also being considered in Europe after a Madrid-based nurse tested positive for the virus. She was the first to contract the disease outside of Africa, triggering fears of a pandemic.
Cue the wedding bells. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review same-sex marriage cases in five states, clearing the path for gay couples to marry in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Both sides of the issue had hoped the high court would decide on the constitutionality of the unions, but the justices declined. The decision effectively legalizes gay marriage in 30 states. The drumbeat grew even louder on Tuesday when a federal court struck down bans in Idaho and Nevada.
Brussels is flexing its muscles over an alleged Amazon tax deal. The European Commission charges that Luxembourg allowed the online giant to reap potentially illegal state subsidies for years — in a sweetheart deal like those that have entangled Apple in Ireland and Starbucks in the Netherlands. Investigators believe the 540,000-strong Grand Duchy granted Amazon extremely favorable terms in a 2003 tax ruling, which limited the retailer’s overall bill to less than one percent of its European income.
U.S. government prepares fresh attacks on big banks. (NYT)
Samsung warns of 60 percent drop in third-quarter earnings. (FT) sub
Mexican president vows ‘no impunity’ over missing students. (BBC)
Lightning strike kills 11 in Colombia. (Telegraph)
Myanmar pardons 3,073 political prisoners. (AP)
Blue is the color of winning for three Japanese physicists (one now a U.S. citizen) for their work 20 years ago on blue LED lights, which enabled the development of white bulbs. The long-burning, low-energy-usage bulbs already transform how people illuminate the world. “The 21st century will be lit by LED lamps,” say the Nobel folks. But there’s still a dark spot: The physics Nobel continues to be men only — no woman has won in more than 50 years.
This is where terror and tyranny roam freely. Daily life in Raqqa, the conquered Syrian city that is now the Islamic State’s seat of power, is characterized by brutal control. Severed heads line public parks. Strict Sharia law is enforced. Bread and medicine are scarce, and children dig through trash for anything to sell. It’s a picture that comes to light thanks to a brave source for Vanity Fair, as one Raqqa resident gives the outside world a glimpse beyond the media-savvy militants’ propaganda.
Think New York’s Magnolia Bakery is pricey? Think again. A little café in Dubai makes the most expensive cupcakes in the world. For $1007, you can buy a Golden Phoenix — a fist-sized treat made with Italian cocoa, Ugandan vanilla and a generous helping of edible gold leaf. Built on Gulf oil wealth, Dubai is notorious for extravagance, but only 15 people in two years have decided the tiny delicacies are worth their weight in gold.
A DEA agent stole a woman’s identity to create a phony Facebook account — complete with racy photos from her seized cell phone — in a bid to bust a drug ring, and the U.S. Justice Department is defending him. While the New York woman awaited trial for cocaine distribution, the agent set up the account and used it to communicate with suspected criminals. “It reeks of misrepresentation, fraud and invasion of privacy,” says one law professor. The woman is suing, but her “profile” remains online.
From shirtless demigod to Greek superhero. A Moscow art exhibition honored Vladimir Putin yesterday on the eve of his 62nd birthday by portraying him as Hercules. The one-day exhibit — organized by a student who heads an online Putin fan club — included paintings of the Russian president completing his own version of the hero’s famous 12 labors. Instead of slaying the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, for example, Putin raises his shield against Western sanctions. Classicists may find the art comes on a bit strong.
The road back to Olympic glory was always going to be long. But now the 18-time gold medalist will get a late start and need a designated driver. USA Swimming suspended the 29-year-old Maryland native for six months after his most recent DUI. Phelps — who is entering a treatment program — will forfeit team funding and miss out on next year’s world championships, which means he’ll be a few laps behind those racing toward 2016’s Rio Games.