06/13/2014 08:31 am ET Updated Jun 13, 2014

Friday's Morning Email: Iraq on Brink of Collapse

Happy Friday the 13th! Here’s why most people are scared of it, and why this one is especially spooky. This is THE MORNING EMAIL for Friday, June 13, 2014.

The Scuttlebutt TOP STORIES

“Islamic militants who seized cities and towns vowed Thursday to march on Baghdad to settle old scores, joined by Saddam Hussein-era loyalists and other disaffected Sunnis capitalizing on the government's political paralysis over the biggest threat to Iraq's stability since the U.S. withdrawal.” President Obama is weighing the U.S.’s role in assisting the embattled country but has sworn off putting actual boots on the ground. Fleeing Iraqis say they prefer the rebels to the army. Check out how ISIS, the militants behind the upheaval, want to redraw the Middle East. Here’s why Iran sent in troops. [AP]

“Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the last American prisoner of war, returned home early Friday morning, his hero's welcome supplanted by a controversial prisoner swap and his reputation tarnished by accusations he was a deserter. He arrived in San Antonio, Texas, from a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, where he'd been recuperating since his release May 31...” Bergdahl stands to receive over $600,000 in back pay and POW compensation if he is found not guilty of the deserter charges leveled against him. [CNN]

“More than 4,000 pounds of rib-eye and other fresh beef products have been recalled because they could contain contaminated materials linked to mad cow disease.” The meat was sold at Whole Foods throughout the East coast. [CNN]

STATESIDE: Majority Leader Field Narrowing
After Pete Sessions bowed out of the Majority Leader race, it looks like Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is a shoo-in. American teens may be smoking and drinking less, but they’re texting and driving more. Obama’s approval ratings hit Bush-lows. Watch Miss USA defend her self-defense answer. More details were released this week about that time we almost accidentally dropped two nuclear bombs on North Carolina. U.S. bishops are starting to follow Pope Francis’ humble lead. And this is the ONE thing Americans can agree on.

In spray bottle news, this cat loves the spritz.

INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE: Iran on Nuclear Weapon Plans
Iran released a report saying it would take years for the country to build a nuclear bomb. Over 5,000 South Korean police officers raided a church compound for the billionaire owner of the company responsible for the deadly ferry disaster. A former Nigerian president said, “some of [the kidnapped girls] will never return.” And Ukrainian forces recaptured a port city from rebels.

In our favorite animal news, we can’t get enough of these baby red pandas.

BUY! SELL! BUY! Elon Musk Continues To Be the Man
Find out why Tesla doesn’t care if anyone uses their patents. Some top hedge funds aren’t doing so hot these days. Turns out Ford overestimated the fuel economy on six of its vehicles. And CEO pay has increased a stomach-turning amount since 1978.

In smart pig news, watch this one jump from a truck to escape the slaughterhouse.

SCOUTING REPORT: Soccer in Space
The opening ceremony of the World Cup was predictably absurd: take a look at the highlights. Meet the World Cup WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends; we had to look it up). Donald Sterling’s going down swinging: the embattled owner is allegedly digging up dirt on other NBA owners. Meet the “most interesting man in the minors.” And forget the World Cup, soccer looks way more fun in space.

In smile news, this lady cheers up an orangutan.

CULTURE CATCH-UP: Get Better Soon, Harrison!!!
Han Solo is down for the count: Harrison Ford broke his ankle on the “Star Wars” set. Sarah Paulson’s “American Horror Story” character is even scarier than you expected. We can’t get over how meta Michael Keaton’s “Birdman” movie is. Looks like Matt Lauer’s sticking around for a while. And you won’t believe what the most popular TV show among wealthy Americans is.

In Two-Buck Chuck news, here are some hilarious wine infographics.

LIVIN’: Stop Keeping Yourself Down
You need to know these things before you head to the hospital. Make sure you’re not eating TOO much protein. Addicted to the snooze button? Check out how to up your self-control. Here are a bunch of fabulous formal dresses that only LOOK expensive. And you need to stop playing these mind games with yourself.

In confused news, this lizard thinks he’s a puppy.

OTHER PEOPLE’S BUSINESS: Kimye Honeymoon 2.0
Reality star Casey Cohen decried rumors she was having an affair with Jay Z. Tracy Morgan’s condition is improving. Jimmy Fallon’s “People” cover could not be cuter. Ruby Dee, civil rights activist and actress, is dead at 91. We’re not really sure we can call what Khloe Kardashian wore “pants.” And Kim Kardashian showed off her bikini body on her second honeymoon.

In baller t-shirt news, check out Drew Barrymore paying homage to Khaleesi from "Game of Thrones."


@1capplegate: This was said by a teacher in a class I took today " please take care of our planet. It's the only one with chocolate. "

@TomCruise: Back in the 80s with @RobLowe and @EMILIOTHEWAY. Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold. #TBT

@jessetyler: Anyone know a good Instagram account I can follow that features good birds eye shots of lattes?

@RevRunWisdom: I know you want it all. NOW.. Be patient. Don't let your hearts desire become a heart disease. #GodSpeed

@LIFE: VA scandal nothing new? The appalling conditions Vietnam vets faced in VA hospitals, 1970.

This is what it looks like when a star explodes.

Got something to add? Send tips/quips/quotes/stories/photos/events/scoops to Lauren Weber ( Follow us on Twitter (@LaurenWeberHP). Does somebody keep forwarding you this newsletter? Get your own copy. It's free! Sign up here.