This won’t quiet the critics. President Obama personally ordered aides to make preparations for America to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, a significant boost over the 1,600 who have arrived since 2011. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. is absorbing 75,000 refugees next year, an increase of 5,000. The process to approve Syrian refugees is a lengthy one, typically taking 18-24 months. While the U.S. is the largest financial donor to the Syrian refugee efforts its amped up acceptance rate was described as “barely a token” by one human rights group.
The Presidential Daily Brief
We’ve never seen such a downpour. So says Japanese forecaster Takuya Deshimaru amid heavy rains in the wake of Typhoon Etau. Tens of thousands have been ordered to flee their homes as officials issued warnings for prefectures north of Tokyo. Entire buildings have been swept away, several residents have been injured and one person is missing. In Fukushima Prefecture, rainwater has flooded the nuclear plant’s drains, sending contaminated water into the sea. Eastern Japan remains under threat as more precipitation is forecast through tomorrow, and the government remains on high alert.
It’s a done deal. The hard-won accord between Western nations and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program could have come to a veto showdown if Senate Republicans had been able to pass a resolution blocking the agreement, but Democrats banded together to vote down their opponents. After hours of debating, even many skeptical Democrats sided with President Obama — but some worry that considering the stark partisan division on the Iran deal, it could loom as an issue in future battles over the budget, and in next year’s presidential election.
Will they send in reinforcements? Hungary is training soldiers for a possible role in keeping migrants from crossing its southern frontier. Warned to expect roughly 40,000 new refugees next week, Hungarian MPs will soon vote on whether to implement stricter border controls. But the army, in anticipation, has already begun preparatory “Decisive Action” exercises. Denmark, meanwhile, is resuming train traffic across its border with Germany, which was halted by police yesterday, as migrants increasingly head for Sweden to leverage the country’s offer of permanent residency to Syrian asylum seekers.
They’re cleaning up their act. The U.S. Justice Department, long criticized for going easy on Wall Street criminals, has adopted new policies favoring the prosecution of white collar crimes. The rules, laid out in a memo, tell federal prosecutors nationwide to focus on individual employees from the beginning, while denying companies credit for cooperation unless they turn over evidence against specific wrongdoers. It remains unclear whether investigators will have the resources they need, but the move signals official intentions to take a bigger bite out of corporate crime.
Not sticking to your budget is costly. That’s today’s message from Standard & Poor’s as it reduces the investment grade credit rating of Latin America’s biggest country to junk. The move is a response to Brazilian politicians failing to meet budget deficit targets and is a blow for President Dilma Rousseff, who has been trying to get her fiscal house in order but has been forced, twice, to slash budget forecasts. The demotion from a BBB- rating to BB+ also comes with a warning: Brazil could be downgraded again soon.
Police trials in Freddie Gray case to stay in Baltimore. (USA Today)
NATO voices concern over Russian military activity in Syria. (DW)
Japan Post launches IPO in bid to raise $11.5 billion. (FT) sub
Law enforcement agencies will get $79 million to test rape kits. (USA Today)
Yazidi former sex slave: ISIS murdered Kayla Mueller. (BBC)
Hopes, doubts renewed by report about Mexican students. (NYT)
Julius Malema suspended from South Africa’s parliament for 5 days. (Mail & Guardian)
Add another branch to the family tree. Scientists have just discovered a new species of human ancestors deep in a South African cave. More than 1,500 bones from at least 15 individuals — ages have yet to be determined — have been unearthed. One researcher suggests that these members of the previously unknown homo naledi species may have been trapped there by other humans, which could mean primitive man displayed complex behaviors. The team is getting to know these long-lost relatives and hopes their investigations improve our understanding of human origins.
Mess with the tiger, you might get scratched. When Kentucky clerk Kim Davis appeared at a rally this week after her release from jail, she pumped up a crowd with the ’80s song “Eye of the Tiger.” But the Chicago-based rock band behind the anthem didn’t appreciate her use of their intellectual property and took to social media, disavowing her anti-gay marriage politics. The group once sued Newt Gingrich for using the song without permission, and they’re reportedly considering legal action again.
Do good fences make good business? Strapped for cash, Brazil is experimenting with private management for some of its national parks. The government says these partnerships, which ensure the parks get adequately cared for but sometimes leave would-be visitors staring at fences, are a necessity. The private-sector parks game is gaining steam elsewhere too — even Yosemite recently partnered with a commercial concessionaire. But it’s riling some Brazilians who consider mixing conservation and profit “taboo,” and who simply want access to their country’s greenest spaces.
Will customers bite? Yesterday’s event in San Francisco unveiled the predicted suite of new iPhones, a large-screen iPad Pro and a revamped Apple TV. But one juicy tidbit had been kept under wraps: a monthly payment plan designed to get users into a new phone every year. The iPhone Upgrade Program, unveiled amid a market shake-up in cellular contracts, allows folks to purchase unlocked phones directly from Apple, with free annual upgrades. The new offering signals that tech-hungry consumers are increasingly losing their appetite for two-year phone plans.
Its next cover might be foxy. The 127-year-old magazine and Rupert Murdoch are teaming up to create a new entertainment company called National Geographic Partners, transforming NatGeo’s media assets into a for-profit business. The deal, valued at $725 million, will see 73 percent owned by Fox and 27 percent by the National Geographic Society, which remains a non-profit. While the windfall will help the society fund scientific research and exploration, some worry that Murdoch’s stance on climate change could leave associated scientists less than impressed.
This redefines grand slam. Former tennis star James Blake was thrown to the ground and handcuffed outside his Manhattan hotel yesterday when police mistook him for a suspect involved in an identity theft ring. The 35-year-old told reporters that cops rushed him without warning. The ex-player — once ranked fourth in the world — said he believes his race was a factor but is more concerned by the amount of “blatantly unnecessary” force used. He was soon released, and Commissioner Bill Bratton has promised to investigate.