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OVER 10,000 ISIS MILITANTS KILLED IN FIGHTING "More than 10,000 Islamic State fighters have been killed since the international coalition started its campaign against the militant group nine months ago in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday. Speaking after the coalition met in Paris, he said there had been a great deal of progress in the fight against Islamic State but that the group remained resilient and capable of taking the initiative."
CRUNCH TIME IN GREECE "Greece’s international creditors are poised to present the country with the outlines of a bailout deal that amounts to a take-it-or-leave-it offer, a move aimed at breaking a monthslong stalemate but which risks a political backlash and even a government collapse in Athens. The plan marks a sharp shift in tactics by Germany, the IMF and other Greek creditors, who have lost patience with what they see as months of fruitless dialogue with the Athens government. Lenders drafted the proposed deal after key leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, met in Berlin late Monday to overcome their own divisions on how to keep Greece from bankruptcy and an exit from the euro." [Marcus Walker, WSJ]
WHY THE GOP DOESN'T HAVE AN OBAMACARE ALTERNATIVE "The cynical explanation (offered most recently by Salon’s Simon Maloy) is that Republican leaders aren’t serious about crafting a plan -- that all the vague promises of “off-ramps” and “transitions” away from Obamacare have been a public relations stunt, designed to make potential swing votes on the Supreme Court, particularly Chief Justice John Roberts, feel more comfortable about issuing a decision that could create so much chaos for the millions of Americans who can't get health insurance without those federal tax credits." [Jonathan Cohn, HuffPost]
SEPP BLATTER REMAINS FOCUS OF FIFA INVESTIGATION "While it remains unclear what prompted Blatter’s resignation, two people familiar with the case said Tuesday that Blatter remains a focus of the sprawling investigation into FIFA and that federal prosecutors hope to get evidence from those already arrested to secure further indictments. No new charges were announced Tuesday." [Will Hobson and Sari Horwitz, WaPo]
VENEZUELA'S ECONOMY IN SHAMBLES "Just a month ago, $1 was worth 279 bolivars. That was already pretty dismal for Venezuela. Now $1 equals 408 bolivars, according to the unofficial exchange rate, which most Venezuelans get when they try to trade currency. Put another way, one bolivar equals $0.002 -- less than a penny. The country's currency has lost nearly half its value since the beginning of May, according to dolartoday.com, a website that tracks the unofficial exchange rate. It's another sign that Venezuela is arguably the world's worst economy. Venezuela primarily relies on oil exports to support its economy, which was already under pressure before oil prices tanked in the fall and winter." [CNN]
JEB BUSH PUSHING LIMITS OF CAMPAIGN LAW " Jeb Bush is under growing pressure to acknowledge what to some voters and a number of campaign finance lawyers seems obvious: He is running for president. The lawyers say Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor, is stretching the limits of election law by crisscrossing the country, hiring a political team and raising tens of millions of dollars at fund-raisers, all without declaring -- except once, by mistake -- that he is a candidate. Some election experts say Mr. Bush passed the legal threshold to be considered a candidate months ago, even if he has not formally acknowledged it. Federal law makes anyone who raises or spends $5,000 in an effort to become president a candidate and thus subject to the spending and disclosure restrictions. Some limited activities are allowed for candidates who are merely 'testing the waters' for a run." [Eric Lichtblau and Nick Corasaniti, NYT]
FOX NEWS BUNGLES CAITLYN JENNER COVERAGE "In the hours after Caitlyn Jenner revealed herself Monday on the cover of Vanity Fair, Fox News managed to do everything you're not supposed to do when covering transgender issues. From offensive jokes to incorrectly referring to Jenner as 'he' and 'him,' the network displayed either complete ignorance and lack of understanding of the transgender community or total and disgusting transphobia. Or both. Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto, for example, opened his 'Business Alert' segment by pulling up the Vanity Fair cover and shouting out, 'What the hell is going on!?' Reporter Dagen McDowell responded by repeatedly using male pronouns to describe Jenner's identity. 'Well, that's how you transition Bruce Jenner. Let's give him credit -- he is the only person on planet Earth who knows how to one-up his most famous stepdaughter, Kim Kardashian,' McDowell said." [Catherine Taibi, HuffPost]
THE SCIENCE OF PERSUASION "Scientific meta-analyses show that we are more likely to be persuaded when requests are congruent with our values, self-image, and future goals. In other words, people are easily persuaded of that which they wanted to do in the first place. As the French philosopher Blaise Pascal noted: 'People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they have themselves discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.'" [Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, HBR]
TRAILERS COMING TO NETFLIX "Don’t look for Geico commercials to interrupt your Netflix binge-watching session any time soon. In a brief Facebook post Monday night, CEO Reed Hastings declared that the streaming site has no intention of adding advertisements. Or anyway, it won't be advertising things that aren't Netflix. 'No advertising coming onto Netflix,' wrote Hastings above a picture of a large, green dollar sign. 'Period.' Still, he said the company would begin featuring trailers for its original shows and movies at the beginning of its streams." [Alexander Kaufman, HuffPost]
CHIMP COOKS! "Inside every chimp might be a budding chef, just waiting for the right opportunity to show off his culinary skills. While it's long been known that chimps prefer cooked food when given the option, a new study goes even further, showing how chimps may have the patience, planning ability and understanding needed to do the cooking themselves if given the opportunity." [Ed Mazza, HuffPost]
COMBATTING NAIL SALON ABUSES "After Asian Health Services, a community health center and other advocacy groups took inventory of the health “epidemic” nail salon workers faced, they developed the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative in 2005. A conglomerate of manicurists, nonprofits, justice and environmental organizations, the collaborative aimed to develop a program that wouldreward salon owners for prioritizing workers' health and safety. Nail technicians are believed to have miscarriages, develop cancer and other conditions on the job due to exposure to toxins. The scrappy organization, which has only four full-time staff members, is also involved in community organizing and advocacy work on the policy level." [Eleanor Goldberg, HuffPost]
ON THE BLOG
HOW THE U.S. CAN IMPROVE ITS MIDEAST AGENDA "Historically, America has treated [Saudi Arabia] (and indeed the wider region) as a bucket of oil and a place to sell arms. And in the years since 9/11, Washington has also forged intelligence ties with Middle Eastern countries that it counts as allies in the war against Islamic extremism. But in the wake of the Arab Spring, the West has consistently failed to recognize the crisis of legitimacy faced by Middle Eastern governments. Getting this right could yield an extraordinary opportunity for regional stability and commerce, but it requires a leap of faith as well as the adoption of historical sensitivity." [HuffPost]
BEFORE YOU GO
~ The selfie swing is just one more example of our species' decline.
~ Revisit the history of Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo's commemorative website.
~ How to make your office not awful.
~ Cameron Crowe apologized for casting Emma Stone as a part-Asian character in "Aloha."
~ Japan is moving to lower its voting age from 20 to 18.
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