Friday Morning Briefing: Deeper into Afghanistan

June 10, 2016

President Barack Obama has approved a bigger role for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including greater use of air power and the ability to accompany Afghan forces into battle against the Taliban insurgency. The decision comes a year after international forces wrapped up their combat mission and shifted the burden to Afghan troops. It also comes ahead of Obama’s eagerly anticipated decision on whether to forge ahead with a scheduled reduction in the numbers of U.S. troops from about 9,800 currently to 5,500 by the start of 2017.

In addition to collecting Obama’s endorsement, Hillary Clinton also added progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vice President Joe Biden to her list of supporters. The endorsements put pressure on Senator Bernie Sanders, her Democratic rival in the primaries, to throw his support behind the presumptive nominee. Sanders and Obama met for an hour yesterday, after which Sanders said he planned to compete in the final primary in the District of Columbia, but he added that he would work with Clinton to defeat Donald Trump.

Oh and this happened.

Tesla Motors denied there was any safety defect in its Model S or Model X after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was reviewing reports of suspension problems in the Model S and was seeking additional information from vehicle owners and the company.

Dobby is a free elf and is rather hungry

Musafir, a pet monkey, eats a Jalebi sweet on a pavement in Kolkata, India on June 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri    TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSGRQV

Musafir, a pet monkey, eats a Jalebi sweet on a pavement in Kolkata, India, on June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Around the country

  • World leaders, celebrities and boxing fans will gather for a final memorial service to honor Muhammad Ali. Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan are expected to be among those paying their respects.
  • Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is likely to launch a small-donor fundraising effort akin to the grassroots one that powered another insurgent presidential contender, Democrat Bernie Sanders.
  • Firearm owners have no constitutional right to carry a concealed gun in public, a divided U.S. appeals court in California ruled. The decision upholds the right of officials to only grant permits to those facing a specific danger and deals a victory to gun control advocates.

Around the world

  • U.S.-backed forces seized control of the last route into the Islamic State-held city of Manbij in northern Syria, completing their encirclement of the main target in a major advance against the militants.
  • Emails on possible drone strikes in Pakistan are the focus of the FBI investigation into whether Hillary Clinton handled classified information over non-secure servers, the Wall Street Journal reported. The 2011 and 2012 emails were part of a secret arrangement that gave the State Department more of a voice in whether particular CIA drone strikes went ahead.
  • As civil war engulfs Yemen, the central bank is so committed to staying neutral that it pays salaries of soldiers on both sides. The bank distributes money to public-sector workers in both government and rebel-held areas, and guarantees payments for vital grain and flour imports.

Around Wall Street

  • The beleaguered online lending sector has a big problem: the stacking of multiple loans by borrowers who slip through the lenders automated underwriting systems. Because of rushed algorithmic underwriting, soft credit inquiries and patchy reporting of resulting loans to credit bureaus, multiple lenders could wind up making loans to the same borrowers without the full picture of their ability to pay them off.

Digits of the day:

$1.9 billion

Following months of internal wrangling, the House of Representatives passed legislation creating a federal control board to help Puerto Rico cope with crippling debt that is wreaking havoc throughout the island’s economy. Given the overwhelming support in the House and a looming July 1 deadline for Puerto Rico to make a $1.9 billion debt payment, senators may be hesitant to delay or tinker very much with the bill.


  • The United States boasts the world’s largest stash of emergency oil supplies, yet the country’s ability to influence global crude markets with releases from that reserve has waned. The Obama administration hopes to fix that problem with an overhaul of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Today’s reason to live

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