Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient to have been diagnosed on U.S. soil, died Wednesday morning in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Despite receiving an experimental drug and constant medical care, Duncan, 42, succumbed to the deadly disease that has killed more than 3,400 people in Africa this year. The focus now turns to safely removing his body, which is highly contagious, and closely monitoring the dozens of people who were in contact with him.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re pushing forward. Despite U.S.-led airstrikes on Islamic State group targets, militants have battled into two districts in the largely Kurdish town of Kobani, on the border of Turkey and Syria. Meanwhile, at least 21 people have been killed in Turkey, where Kurds are protesting against the inaction of their government against IS. The United States isn’t happy with the Turkish government either, saying it’s “dragging its feet” as a “massacre” looms on its Eastern flank. The Turks are remaining resolute, saying they will not intervene without U.S. action against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In an odd turn — even for the Hermit Kingdom — a regime official defended its human rights record but admitted to detention centers where “people are improved through their mentality.” The mention of the camps should further fuel speculation that Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, who hasn’t been seen publicly in a month, is no longer running the show. Some believe he was ousted and replaced by his Swiss-educated little sister, Kim Yo-Jong.
Folks may call in sick. Walmart, the largest private-sector U.S. employer, is cutting health insurance to part-timers, citing rising costs associated with President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The law requires large firms to provide insurance for employees working more than 30 hours a week. The move may leave about 28,000 — two percent of Walmart’s 1.4 million U.S. employees — feeling ill as they cough up for private insurance. Not to mention Obama’s headache at the reignited healthcare debate ahead of November elections.
They’re rewriting the rules on a $700 trillion market. Banking leaders are giving up the right to terminate derivatives contracts with at-risk institutions. That emergency brake might help prevent the type of chaos that precipitated the 2008 global financial crisis, brought on by the banks reflexively canceling contracts with a failing Lehman Brothers. The move by 18 banks, including Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs, follows months of talks between asset managers and regulators, who demanded that financial firms take more responsibility when disaster strikes.
AT&T will pay $105 million in fines and customer refunds for unlawful billing practices. (NYT)
FBI seeks help in identifying Islamic State militant in video. (CNN)
Justice Kennedy halts same-sex marriage in Nevada, Idaho. (USA Today)
Plane fighting Yosemite fire crashes, killing pilot. (USA Today)
Kenyan president at The Hague to face crimes against humanity charges. (Al Jazeera)
Scientists who set molecules alight claimed the Nobel Prize in Chemistry today. The award recognizes the work of three men who, stymied by the laws of physics that rendered tiny molecules too small to view, flipped the tables by setting the molecules aglow, making their movements easier to see. Next up: the literature prize tomorrow, the Peace Prize on Friday and the economics award on Monday.
Alyssa Carson wants to be the first person on Mars — and she’s all of 13 years old. The Louisiana teenager began “training” at age 4, and was first in attending all three of NASA’s world space camps. Her father says he’s planned her next 20 years of preparation for the trip, and she’s even willing to go if it means a one-way ticket. “I may never see her again,” he says. A NASA official approves: “She’s doing the right things, taking the right training.”
The bird wants out of its cage and is suing for the right to reveal U.S. government data requests. The flap? Whether its free speech rights allow it to reveal national security demands for users’ data. “We are entitled under the First Amendment to respond to our users’ concerns … about the scope of U.S. government surveillance,” its legal chief said. Twitter filed suit after its “transparency report” on the number of surveillance requests was blocked by the government.
The U.S. Supreme Court began considering Tuesday whether a Muslim inmate should be allowed to grow a half-inch beard. The hair-raising issue prompted mockery, with Justice Alito suggesting the use of a comb to search for contraband like a ”tiny revolver.” Justice Scalia bemoaned trying cases “half-inch by half-inch.” Brought by an Arkansas inmate on a handwritten petition, the case is seen as an important test of religious liberty — or at least a close shave.
Either the Giants or the Cardinals have been in the last four World Series, and it’s déjà vu all over again. The postseason powerhouses meet this weekend in a flashback-to-2012 NL Championship Series. To accomplish this, St. Louis beat the L.A. Dodgers 3-2 on a Matt Adams three-run homer off Cy Young-favorite Clayton Kershaw. Meanwhile, San Francisco sent Washington home with dumb-luck scoring. Can the Giants maintain their every-other-year run to the Fall Classic?
For the launch of BBC Music — the British media giant’s “strongest commitment to music in 30 years” — the broadcaster pulled off a sparkling rendition of beloved Beach Boys’ classic “God Only Knows.” Backed by a full orchestra, the performance is a tour de force of 27 top talents, including Pharrell Williams, Elton John, Chris Martin, Stevie Wonder — and Beach Boy Brian Wilson. God only knows how much producers spent, but it may be the best thing you’ll see all day.