Director James Comey announced his bureau thwarted several terror plots in the last few weeks, including some connected to the 4th of July holiday. More than 10 ISIS-related arrests have been made recently, he revealed, which were connected to plots set up by ISIS members overseas. Sen. James Risch told CNN one plot was within “hours or minutes” of occurring before the intervention. Possible attacks included “unsophisticated” weaponry such as guns and knives, the report said. As possible other suspects are finding ways to communicate covertly, the government warns the U.S. terror risk is currently at a high level.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Dixie is waving goodbye. After an emotional 13-hour debate, South Carolina’s House of Representatives voted 94-20 to lower the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse. Republican Jenny Horne, a descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, said keeping the flag would be an insult to the Charleston massacre victims. Gov. Nikki Haley has signed the bill into law, and the flag — which is now losing ground on other fronts and may disappear from federal cemeteries as well — could be taken down as early as this weekend.
The plan is in and – surprise – it apparently includes austerity measures. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delivered the promised reforms to Eurozone leaders today in a bid to receive bailout funding totaling about $59 billion over three years. Early reports say the plan included raising taxes and cutting pension costs, which were the same statutes many in his left–leaning party were stridently against and that now, Tsipras must ensure are passed as legislation. The Eurogroup finance ministry chairman said he wouldn’t comment on the proposal until the leaders of the IMF and the European Central Bank had a chance to study them thoroughly.
Prince Saud al-Faisal died today in Beirut, Lebanon, leading U.S. government officials to sing his praises for his logical, professional form of diplomacy. Serving as foreign minister from 1975 until his retirement this past April, al-Faisal helped maintain a sense of order and calm in the Middle East around destabilizing events like the September 11th attacks and the Civil War in Lebanon. U.S. ambassador Ford M. Fracker said upon his passing that al-Faisal was an instrumental figure in foreign policy.
There was more damage than they originally estimated. The U.S. says the massive data hack into the Office of Personnel Management likely affected far more people than they thought, with every single background file completed since 2000 — that’s about 19.7 million — stolen, meaning hackers have access to background checks, and thus sensitive personal information on government employees. Officials are keeping mum about just what their course of action will be, but they’ve admitted that they’re worried as to what unfriendly foreign powers could do using this information.
They’d hoped for resolution by now. Secretary of State John Kerry is now signaling that the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are unlikely to be finished by early Friday — significant because if talks end before that, Congress will only have a 30-day review period, and if they end after that it’ll stretch on to 60 days. The longer the review takes, the longer Iran must wait before sanctions can be lifted — and the longer Western powers must wait for the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear development.
They’ve been red carded. Europe has been investigating Mastercard for two years — there’s a similar probe into Visa’s doings, though it’s unfinished — and now has brought antitrust charges against the company, saying it’s been artificially inflating fees on card purchases in the EU, thus harming European businesses. Mastercard says it plans to respond to the charges and that it’s currently cooperating — but a conviction could see fines of $950 million and a shake-up to company policies.
Give Beijing props. Measures to stem stock sell-offs may be working, at least temporarily, reflected in rising shares today. The Shanghai Composite had its best single day since 2009, gaining 5.8 percent, and the Shenzhen index lifted 3.8 percent. While the government is promising “abundant liquidity” to keep an even keel, fears persist that the downturn could resume, with speculation focusing on overvalued small firms that the government may not want to support. Economists are wary that dips will undermine consumer confidence and further slow China’s growth.
The market went down yesterday — technically speaking. Trading was temporarily suspended on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for more than three hours, leaving traders staring at blank screens. The stoppage — an incredibly rare occurrence — oddly coincided with problems at United Airlines and The Wall Street Journal. The exchange cited an “internal technical issue,” dismissing rumors of a cyberattack. And while many breathed a sigh of relief, it’s bound to ignite debate on whether the tech behind today’s financial infrastructure is too fragile.
U.K. warns British tourists another Tunisian attack may be imminent. (BBC)
Baltimore mayor fires Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. (WSJ) sub
U.N.: Four million refugees have fled Syria since 2011. (Al Jazeera)
Chinese journalist to be released after nine months. (NYT)
Federal marriage benefits now available to all U.S. same-sex couples. (USA Today)
Is it high time to post selfies atop Japan’s tallest mountain? As of tomorrow, Wi-Fi hotspots at eight locations, including the summit, will provide hikers with free connectivity. While tourists will no doubt delight in staying in touch throughout their climb, the move — prompted by requests from American and European visitors — aims to boost safety as well as tourism. Some are opposed to mixing nature with technology, but officials hope thousands will share their experiences on the 12,388-foot volcano and drive up foreign tourist numbers.
A federal judge in Virginia refused to reinstate six trademark registrations that were canceled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because they were deemed as offensive to Native Americans. U.S. District Judge Gerald Lee said the name may be disparaging to the minority group and that the earlier decision did not violate the team’s Constitutional free speech rights. In a statement, the team run by controversial owner Daniel Snyder said it would fight the decision. This ruling may be another key step toward the eventual renaming of the team.
They won’t call them Death Eaters. But you might hear debates about “death panels” again, now that Medicare, which insures 55 million Americans, is planning to reimburse physicians for end-of-life counseling. This would include chats about whether and how patients want to be kept alive if they become too ill to speak. The National Right to Life Committee opposes what it fears could lead to patients being pressured to halt treatment. But the new rules are expected to pass and take effect in January.
The man with the most famous wandering eye in news is again looking for work. The 56-year-old has previously left ESPN’s Sportscenter, ESPN2, Current TV, Fox Sports and MSNBC. While his content, according to the network, was “extremely high quality,” they’ve decided to call it a day, citing “creative differences.” Known for razor-sharp sports quips and political punditry, Olbermann wraps up his eponymous ESPN2 show this month. With 2016 on the horizon, the outspoken talent might just return to his political roots.
Business isn’t humming along. The motoring giant is recalling nearly 200,000 of its older mega-SUVs, owing to electrical problems. Troubles have been linked to ventilation fan motors overheating, with 42 fires and three burns reported by customers. The recall affects H3s produced from 2006 to 2010 and H3Ts from 2009 and 2010. The Detroit-based firm — which is also recalling 51,000 Chevy Spark and Sonic car models over radio software problems — says dealers will carry out the Hummer repairs at no charge.
Will Dallas rebound? The Clippers center verbally committed to the Mavericks last week, but he reneged last night, opting to stay in Los Angeles. Steve Ballmer and Jordan’s teammates reportedly helped keep the Texan away from Dallas’ representatives until he signed a four-year, $88 million contract. While there are no official rules preventing this, the move is netting plenty of criticism. But L.A. is looking ahead, giving flight to fans’ dreams of reaching the playoffs again next year with a simple tweet: “We’re officially centered.”